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Extra €4 million needed for housing adaptation grant backlog, says Cllr

Pearse McGeough
Sinn Féin councilllor Pearse McGeough addresses a crowd of constituents in July 2020. Photo Credit: Kathy Gilroy-Barry.

The allocation of just shy of €1.5 million towards Housing Adaptation Grants in county Louth will see just 20% of applicants awarded receive payments towards work in their home, according to a Sinn Féin councillor.

Ardee Municipal District councillor Pearse McGeough says the funding allocation simply isn’t enough to cater for the amount of applications the local authority are receiving for such work. It was announced on Thursday that Louth County Council are to receive just short of €1.5 million in funding for Housing Adaptation Grants, available to assist older persons or people with disabilities living in privately owned homes who may need to make changes to aid disability.

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The local authority will receive €1,469, 895 from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, with an additional 20% of the total funding – €367,474 – matched by the council. In total, €1,837, 369 will be made available in Louth compared to a total of €73.75 million which has been made available to all local authorities across the country.

“Each year a budget is allocated to this scheme which will adapt houses for the disabled or elderly. The applications for this particular scheme are from some of the most vulnerable in our
community and are intended to make daily life better for those who need a bit of extra help with their physical needs,” Cllr McGeough explained.

“This could be anything from a downstairs bathroom to a more major refurbishment of their home. It will help people to retain their independence for longer rather than be forced to go into a hospital or a nursing home.” But he said the adaptations were not being carried out in as timely manner as necessary.

“That is just not happening due to budgetary constraints. Up to the end of June, in Louth, there were 497 applications for some form of refurbishment to be carried out in people’s homes – 87 were new applications received this year alone – some of these will be waiting for two plus years to get these ‘essential’ works done,” he said.

The 497 total represents a total number of grants made under the Housing Adaption Grants (to assist those who need whole time care in the home), Housing for Oder People grants (for works to preserve the integrity of the dwelling) and Mobility Aids Grants (to assist those who need whole time care in the home).

According to Cllr McGeough, just 61 payments under the grants scheme were made. “I estimate with the funding released today that there should be around 100-110 payments made this year which equates to just over 20% of applications.” He says around €4 million is needed in Louth alone to deal with all existing applications. The application process remains open.

“[Covid-19] has really brought home to people that our older citizens are better staying at home independently for as long as possible. If citizens are unable to remain in their own homes, it has the knock-on effect of a greater number of older people seeking nursing home places and they aren’t available either. People deserve better.”

The maximum grant available is €30,000 for a person with a disability, while up to €8,000 is available to assist improving poor housing conditions for older people. A grant of up to €6,000 is available for mobility aids to address mobility problems for a member of the household.

Prior to the announcement of a new tranche of funding for Housing Adaptation Grants today, the local authority had put in place an interim fund worth 65% of the previous years funding to allow for such work to continue.

Louth County Council are receiving approximately €104,000 more than in 2019 – a rise of 7.6% on the €1,365,441 received from the Exchequer.

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