Lynda Mc Gavigan area manager for housing and corporate services for Donegal County Council tells us all we need to know about the Councils housing services.
“I have been working in the Council for almost 24 years and for the last three years I’ve worked as area manager for housing and corporate services in the Inishowen electoral area which stretches from Manorcunnigham right up to Malin Head.”
“The council provides housing support for people who are not in a position to provide accommodation from their own resources.
To apply for housing support you have to complete an application form and submit the required supporting documentation for example – income details, birth certificates etc., the application is then assessed in accordance with national guidelines. If approved the housing applicant will be put on a waiting list and they become eligible to be considered for any dwellings that may become available in their area of preference.”
The points system
“Every applicant is allocated points and it’s based again on factors such as family composition, length of time on the waiting list and various other factors as such as medical issues.
“Because it’s a points system, each case is dealt with individually, for example, you would be allocated additional points if you required particular type of accommodation because of a medical need or similar issue.
I think this system works well as it is consistent and we know exactly how many points each person on the list has, says Lynda.
“We manage, maintain and upgrade our own council housing stock, for example, the Council is currently carrying out an extensive programme of works to improve the energy efficiency of its houses, through the installation and improvement of attic and cavity wall insulation. We would also provide assistance through various loan schemes for the purchase, erection and construction of dwellings. We would provide assistance for the adaptation and improvement of dwellings for older people and for people with disabilities.
We also work with approved housing bodies and with the HSE to provide accommodation for people with special needs, where traditional forms of housing support wouldn’t deliver for those particular needs.”
Lynda says that information on housing is widely available on the web and for those not on the internet, housing staff are just a phone call away.
“Information and application forms are available from the housing department in Lifford or in each of the public service centres in Carndonagh, Letterkenny, Dungloe and DonegalTown. They are also available from the council’s website on www.donegalcoco.ie or by telephoning the council on 0749153900. We try to make the information as widely available as possible”.
Although funding to build houses has been reduced in recent years Lynda says it’s a sign of the times but it won’t prevent people being allocated a council house.
“At the moment there is limited funding available to build houses, that may change but for the last number of years unfortunately the capital funding has decreased and again it is largely a sign of the times.
“Although the councils traditional building programme has slowed down there has been a number of initiatives introduced which provide accommodation and supports the councils existing stock, for example the council provides accommodation for over 60 families in properties that we have obtained under the long term leasing scheme from private landlords.
“There’s almost 700 households accommodated under the rental accommodation scheme. As well as that we have entered into arrangements with various approved housing bodies for example – Apex, Habintag, Respond, Cluid and also St. Vincent de Paul to provide accommodation for people who are on the council’s waiting list.
So there are other alternatives out there that are definitely supporting us and, I think it balances out and means that even though the economy has taken a downturn we are still housing people, and no matter what, we will continue to do so, she added.”
Facts about council accommodation
The Councils maintains 3,020 rented houses in over 220 housing estates in Donegal along with an additional 760 individual houses.
The Council invested €1.1m in energy efficiency measures in council owned houses in 2013
2,038 people were on the Councils housing waiting list in 2013
Housing application forms are available from www.donegalcoco.ie.
For more info on Council Housing Services call – 0749153900