One of the most important ways in which the State can make a difference to the quality of people’s lives can be tested, in the number and quality of homes provided to people on low incomes.
We are all demoralised at seeing the continuous stress of constituents who find themselves, frequently, with a small family, waiting to be offered a house from a local authority.
The problem of domestic overcrowding is worse today than it was in 1950s.
None of us should underestimate the long-term damage that is caused to families who frequently share three bedroomed houses with an extended family, of sometimes seven to 10 adults.
The tension cannot be underestimated.
Over the past 20 years, the traditions of investing resources in social housing have been overturned while every day we read the latest report on the housing crisis, it seems that very little attention is given to the untold misery of people who are waiting for a local authority home.
Because the housing market is out of control in excess of 100,000 men, women and children are paralysed on a waiting list, with little chance of being housed.
Local authorities work in conjunction with voluntary housing agencies but in this transaction home-owner does not apply.
Some years ago, local authority tenants were given the option to purchase schemes.
Home ownership is security for families and an aspect of social housing, I am actively pursuing to have it implemented.
Since local authorities were first established, in excess of 440,000 dwellings have been built, over 90% of which were later sold off to tenant purchasers.
Why have we changed the record to misery and hardship?
In the past, local authorities purchased land for the construction of social and affordable housing, and did so very well, in conjunction with local building contractors in the 1970s.
I recall officially opening eight such schemes in East Cork.
I appeal to the Minister for Housing to approve funding to local authorities, to allow the commencement of similar housing in our towns and villages, otherwise, the lives and health of our people will be in jeopardy.
Cllr Noel Collins
This reader's opinion was originally published in the letters page of the Irish Examiner print edition on 15 July 2019.