DONEGAL County Council built or bought 296 houses for social housing in the seven years between 2016 and 2022 according to figures published this week by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
As government announced it carried out the largest social housing build since 1975, opposition politicians are casting doubt over this claim saying the coalition has failed to meet their own housing targets.
Letterkenny based Councillor Gerry McMonagle responded to the government report saying they were “playing hokey cokey with the figures” and “we are not allowed to build affordable houses here”.
“Even when I try to drill down into our own council figures it gets harder to understand and identify all those new houses. Are they closed as voids or has someone who was in a social house moved out? It is very confusing and difficult to get to the bottom of it. It is smoke and mirrors,” Cllr McMonagle said.
The figures released this week show that the new social houses built or bought by the local authority here were as follows; 2022 – 66; 2021- 53; 2020 – 49; 2019 – 59; 2018 – 58; 2017 – 11.
Statistics published by the department for previous years show a very different picture.
In Donegal in the year 2002 the council built or bought 549 social houses. The total number of social houses built or bought by the local authority between 1994 and 2015 was 3,474.
Annual builds were in triple figures right up until 2010 when they went into double figures – 38 houses in 2010 until diminishing to one house built or bought in 2015.
“No one is building in this town as we discussed at our planning meeting yesterday. Now we have learned that the National Planning Regulator wants to reduce the number of hectares we can use in the town to build houses.
“How does a government underspend €1.2 billion in a housing budget in the middle of the worst housing crisis. People are not stupid. Why don’t they share that money out with the local authorities and tell them to get on and build houses.
“Doctors, nurses and staff coming to the hospital need houses as do businesses locating here,” Cllr McMonagle added.
According to this week’s report Donegal County Council sold off 16 local authority homes in 2016 and 14 in 2020.
Publishing the report Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said “whilst today’s news is positive, the government recognises that we need to continue ramping up supply. That is why Government colleagues and I remain focused on delivering Housing for All, which contains the right mix of ambition, guaranteed funding, reform, new initiatives and stability of policy to support the delivery of social and affordable housing.
“The pipeline is strong, with over 19,000 social homes either on site or at design and tender stage. This year we will also continue to deliver affordable homes and have targeted 5,500 through our local authorities, the Land Development Agency, the First Home Scheme and our new form of tenure, Cost Rental. We will continue to implement the plan whilst remaining open to introducing new measures where needed to address new and emerging challenges.”