Carmel Kirby, acting director of service with Limerick City and County Council
COUNCILLORS have given only a lukewarm reaction to a new proposal which could see older homeowners move from their own home into a local authority dwelling.
At a housing committee meeting, members were shown proposals to introduce a downsizing scheme for private owners of homes.
The scheme – already adopted in Cork and Dublin – would see people over the age of 60 years whose home exceeds their needs have their property bought in exchange for lifelong tenancy in a senior citizens dwelling.
The council presented plans after lobbying from the Older Persons Council, and would be open to people who the council feel are living in unfit accommodation, who need supported accommodation, or people who are not able to financially meet the cost of the upkeep of their current dwelling.
However, Cllr Lisa Marie Sheehy said the plans in their current form “simply do not make sense”.
“They are giving away a larger house and getting a smaller one in return. It’s not attractive at all to be honest. Can we make this more attractive for older people?”
Seamus Hanrahan admitted the plans in their current form could do with some tweaking.
But he added: “If we come up with a workable solution, we should advertise it.”
Cllr Sheehy urged the senior citizens parliament and the Older Persons Council to be involved in the discussion locally.
Separately, it emerged at the council meeting this week that the local authority is putting in place ‘hubs’ to help families living in hotels and bed and breakfasts.
Director of Service for Social Development Carmel Kirby revealed there are currently 65 families staying in local hotels due to the fact there is no suitable housing for them.
In an effort to help them be ready to return to permanent accommodation, the local authority is opening two facilities next month – one to house 10 families, the other 30.
“These families are our real priority at the moment,” said Ms Kirby.
“What we are preparing for those is two family hubs. While they are not the ideal solution for families, they certainly provide a better solution than bed and breakfast and hotel accommodation.”
She also revealed a third building which will help a further four families – the council is in the process of refurbishing.
“After that, any vacant stock which comes up, we will actively and pro-actively get these units back into use, and this will help with the remaining families in this emergency homeless situation,” Ms Kirby stated.
The council official said she is not in a position to state where in the city these units will be located.
Ms Kirby also announced two other measures to get the housing waiting list down – proposed modular homes and ‘rapid build’ facilities to tackle the housing problem in the city and county.