This time last year, Cork woman Jane Riordan was at her wits end trying to find suitable accommodation. She had been on Cork County Council’s housing waiting list for more than 10 years at that stage and wasn’t sure if she would ever get a place of her own.
Little did she know, the finishing touches were just being put on the house that would eventually become hers – a home located in the Green Valley Estate in Douglas.
“I was on the waiting list for ten years. I didn’t think I’d ever get a home,” she said.
“Then, last March I got a letter saying there was a place for me. I remember getting it. I actually cried. I was so happy.” Jane moved into her house a couple of weeks later. She said she will never forget the day she set foot inside.
“I was so happy to get the house that I couldn’t even open the door. I couldn’t do it. I had to get my dad to open the door for me! But I was happy that my dad and my family were able to see me eventually getting a place to call my own.” Jane was speaking at the launch of 16 new houses in her estate yesterday – she had moved into a house completed last year under the first phase of a construction project in the Green Valley Estate, and the 16 additional houses came on stream yesterday under the second phase.
The development is being constructed in three phases at a cost of €9.3m and will ultimately deliver 40 new homes.
Housing Minister Simon Coveney was on hand to officially unveil the latest completions.
“This is just one of many projects we have across the county. We’re in Phase Two here, so there are an initial 12 houses that are occupied, another 16 that are now finished and are soon going to be occupied, and a third phase which has already begun construction will add significantly more houses to this development,” he said.
“This is another step in the right direction. In Cork city we have 11 sites with 400 houses under construction. Similar numbers in the county. Cork City Council and Cork County Council both have significant finance now from me to get on with building and acquiring significant numbers of social houses and I think that’s what people need to hear - because there are a lot of families today who need the state to intervene to ensure that they can get a safe and sustainable home.” Mr Coveney said social housing is arguable the biggest part of his ministerial brief, and feels he has been “very upfront” about that fact that the country hasn’t been building enough social housing in recent years.
“We weren’t able to afford to,” he said.
“But that’s changing now. We have a growing economy that can finance these things now and we have committed to spending nearly €5.5bn to add nearly 50,000 social houses to the social housing stock over the next four to five years.” He said yesterday’s latest unveiling of new homes was indicative of this, and also praised Cork County Council for “dramatically ramping up” the delivery of new projects such as this latest one in Green Valley, Douglas.