‘Shining example’ housing scheme brings area back from the brink

Housing and Planning Minister Jan O’Sullivan visited St Michael’s Road in Longford today to officially open 37 new homes, a project in Longford that has been hailed as a shining example of how housing authorities should work with not-for-profit organisations.

Before Longford County Council and Clúid Housing Association stepped in, 70 per cent of the properties on the road were boarded up or derelict and many older residents lived in tiny, damp houses.

Others told of sleeping in their living rooms because of dangerous stairs.

During the renovations, some units were amalgamated, turning 58 very small two-bedroom houses into 37 refurbished dwellings.

Houses are now heated using gas-fired condenser boilers and solid fuel stoves. High levels of insulation were also introduced, giving the units good energy ratings.

Illegal dumping became a major issue as litter piled up to the second floor windows outside a number of properties.

The surrounding lanes also brought problems as they became breeding grounds for anti-social behaviour and drug-dealing. Residents also became detached from surrounding communities because the only access points to neighbouring estates were these dark, unsafe alleyways.

During the works, the laneways were cleared and minimised and a new connection road was built in the heart of the area.

A neigbourhood once described as “irredeemable” has been transformed and the public-nonprofit partnership responsible praised as “an exemplar to many other housing associations and local authorities across the country”.

O’Sullivan noted that the not-for-profit Clúid Housing Association had created a sustainable community thanks to its understanding of marginalised communities and the need for a social element of regeneration.

According to the Labour TD, the community is now socially, environmentally, physically and financially secure.

The organisation is keen to work with other local authorities to “bring the irredeemable back to life”, says manager Fiona Cormican, who believes there are about 22 estates in dire need of regeneration across the country. Source: The Journal.