A Clare TD has criticised the efforts of Clare County Council in securing emergency accommodation in West Clare.
Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne (SF) has claimed that the highest rate of empty properties in the county are in Kilrush yet no emergency accommodation is available for the homeless in the West Clare town.
She criticised the County Council for not providing sufficient emergency accommodation in West Clare. “It has been highlighted time and time again, that West Clare suffers from a deprivation of homeless services, lack of social housing and few rental properties available. The nearest emergency accommodation is over 40km away and the situation is unsustainable”.
Vacant units in Kilrush are among the highest in the country, Deputy Wynne said. “It would seem obvious that these units could be obtained to provide emergency accommodation for families and individuals who are extremely vulnerable.
“It is deeply concerning that during a pandemic there has been no sign of any increased efforts to address the lack of homeless accommodation in West Clare, particularly when the need for isolation units might arise for families and individuals in homelessness, to help keep people safe from the virus”.
Clare County Council’s attempts to deal with the matter must be intensified, the Offaly native believed. “The trauma associated with homelessness is bad enough but made even worse by the lack of services in the area. The provision of homeless accommodation for Kilrush and surrounding areas is much needed and long awaited, and Clare County Council must seriously follow through on previous commitments which have never been progressed”.
A spokesperson for the local authority said the Homeless Action Team (HAT) “work diligently” to support the homeless or those at risk of homelessness in Clare. “Homeless services are delivered in the main from Ennis as the county town as this is where the Council has access to facilities and support services. It is not reasonable or cost-effective to provide homeless services in every town and village in the county and invariably we would not have demand for same, that said all clients have been offered available services and some choose not to avail of these services for many reasons”.
Kilrush’s “particular need for homeless accommodation” forms part of a proposal submitted by Clare County Council to Limerick City and County Council as the regional lead to seek support to submit a funding proposal to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH). “The development of this proposal has been in train for a number of months and this was previously discussed with Deputy Wynne”.
Currently, there are 10 vacant properties, 9 of which were constructed around the 1930s. These units “require significant work to bring them up to minimum rented standards”, the Council spokesperson outlined. It is hoped to receive funding from the DHLGH to complete works to the properties by the end of this year.
There are a number of rough sleepers in Kilrush at present. The individuals are known to the HAT with a caseworker assigned to support them, “they remain resolute that they will not relocate from Kilrush to available services in Ennis”.
Clare County Council have said there has been “extensive interactions” with Deputy Wynne frp senior management and the HAT since her election and noted her “particular focus on housing”.