73 new Kildare Traveller accommodation units in next five years

Request for standard housing high among Traveller preferences

Henry Bauress

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Henry Bauress

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editor@kildarepost.com

73 new Kildare Traveller accommodation units in next five years

Kildare County Council's head offices at Aras Chill Dara, Naas

Kildare County Council has agreed a new Traveller accommodation plan  for the county for the period 2019-2024.

At its monthly meeting yesterday, September 23, the council agreed without discussion, to the plan which involves creating 73 new housing units for the travelling community over the next five years.

Following consultation and submissions from three groups, the council agreed the plan in the light of an increase in the number of travellers in the county since 2015.

The number of traveller families living in the county has increased steadily over these past four years.

There were 225 Traveller households in 2015 and 302 in 2018 - an increase of 34%  with the number of individuals up 26%, increasing from 813 to 1026. This suggests on average, smaller family units.

 The plan said this year’s figures indicate an increase in roadside families since last year and a steady decline in the number of private rented houses over the past four years in line with declining availability all over the county.

The report said these figures echo the views and experiences voiced by Traveller families during the consultation process as they described difficulty in accessing private rented accommodation and increasing instances of living in roadside caravans due to a lack of accommodation availability.  

The council said it had a target of 76 units in the 2014 plan including 55 standard houses and 21 traveller specific sites. It delivered 58 houses, three above target, and 13 traveller specific accommodation, a shortfall of 38% in this area. It said it delivered 93% of its target, “against a backdrop of the worst housing crisis in modern Irish history” where “the Traveller community have been disproportionately affected by the national housing shortage.”

During the 2014-2018 Traveller Accommodation Programme in Kildare, the number of Travellers families on the roadside fell from 23 to 15, those in traveller specific accommodation rose from 25 to 31 and the numbers in standard housing doubled from 56 to 112.

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Those in rented accommodation fell from 106 to 80 but the number of Traveller homeless rose from zero in 2014 to 19 in 2018, when a survey was done in November of that year.

The new plan projects accommodation will be needed for 73 new households, of which 58 are currently in need and a further 15 will be needed over the next five years.

Of the 58 units, 38 are standard houses and 16 are group housing.

The preference among travellers is, firstly, for standard social housing and secondly, for group housing.

The council said it will try to deliver an “ambitious target” of 28 additional traveller specific units over the plan.  This includes eight units at Tankardsgarden, Newbridge, in 2020, five in Naas in 2021, five in Athy in 2022 plus five more in 2023, and five in Celbridge in 2023.

The survey indicated that there was strong support among Travellers for the development of temporary sites that could be used by families living on the road and awaiting an offer of permanent accommodation.

But they were against the idea of transient sites “uncomfortable with families that they did not know coming into the area.”