10 December 1998 Edition

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What the housing crisis really means

By Roisín de Rossa

If you were expecting the budget to deal with the housing crisis - perhaps the worst ever in the history of the state - you would have been seriously mistaken.

There are 43,000 households on the housing waiting list this year. McCreevy increased support for local authority housing by £269 million. This is a 20% increase in the social housing programme, and means an extra 600 housing starts for next year. Longford alone has 900 on its list. The Keowns are just one of these.

Tina and Mick Keown are living with their three small children in a one bedroom house - Blathraid (9), Dearbaile (2) and Lorcan (1). Tina is expecting a baby in February. ``As it is,'' she says, ``we're sleeping in shifts.''

Conditions are unbearably cramped in the tiny living room, where there is no room to live. Play space is saucepans on the floor of the tiny walk-in kitchenette. ``It is impossible to imagine how it will be with the new baby as well,'' says Mick.

In desperation Mick put up banners in the garden explaining his situation. ``The neighbours are really great. They all came to offer support and to ask what they could do to help us''.

The council has made two offers to the family which Mick and Tina found impossible. So they are stuck, waiting. But for how long?

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1