Laois County Council has been taken to task over its record on housing people with disabilities which includes a long waiting list and a lack of meeting on a committee that is supposed to oversee the area.
Aontú Portlaoise Local Area Representative, Úna Doogue has issued a statement in which she strongly criticises the local authority over what she says is their failure to meet obligations under the National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability in Laois.
“Last November I secured details of the Laois County Council Strategic Plan for Housing People with a Disability on foot of a Freedom of Information request to obtain figures for the number of those with disability in Laois waiting on social housing, and the length of time applicants were waiting.
“The Strategic Plan stated that it’s evident there is a significant need for housing for people with disabilities in the county. The numbers at the time showed there were 70 people with a disability on the social housing list with Laois County Council with some waiting more than 10 years,” she said.
Ms Doogue added that Laois County Council was one of just two local authorities which were the last to produce a Strategic Plan for Housing People with a Disability.
“As a result, the Disabled Person’s Organisation, ILMI, Independent Living Movement Ireland, ranked Laois County Council at zero in a league table on the performance of local authorities across the country under the National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability.
“At the time I requested the Aontú leader, Deputy Peadar Tóibín to raise this in the Dáil where he spoke on two occasions about local authority waiting lists for housing for people with disabilities. He also referred to the numbers of people under aged 65 with a disability, the hidden homeless, living inappropriately in nursing homes due to lack of suitable accommodation,” she said.
The Aontú member said a recent Freedom of Information request made on her party to County Hall in Portlaoise sought the minutes of the Housing and Steering Disability Group in the Administrative area for 2019, 2020 and 2021 including the membership of the Steering Group for these years. She also requrested a list of membership of the group and attendance at the meetings was also requested.
“The Freedom of Information request was refused on the basis that there was nothing on record as no meetings were held in that period and therefore there was also no record of attendance. It was noted that membership of the group is comprised of Laois County Council and the Health Service Executive.
“Quite interestingly, it was also noted in the response that a virtual meeting would then take place shortly although no date had been set. Laois County Council was just one of four county councils across the country not to have held meetings as per the Freedom of Information request to all local authorities and responses received in return”.
Úna Doogue concluded by calling on Laois County Council to provide an explanation as to why it has not delivered given the significant need for housing for people with disabilities in the county.