Housing association led by Travellers targets new homes

Cena to deliver four-bay halting site in Galway city and four units in Co Offaly by 2017

Traveller housing association Cena will deliver a four-bay halting site in Galway city. Photograph: The Irish Times

Traveller housing association Cena will deliver a four-bay halting site in Galway city. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

A new housing association, led by Travellers and dedicated to the provision of Traveller-specific accommodation, will provide new housing units in two counties over the next two years.

Cena, which in the Traveller language Gammon or Cant means “house”, has been in the works since 2009 and was launched by Minister of State Paudie Coffey on Tuesday.

After piloting with Galway city and Offaly County Councils, Cena intends to work with local authorities throughout the State. Its approach could transform the delivery of Traveller accommodation.

It will deliver a four-bay halting site in Galway city and four units of group housing in Co Offaly by 2017.

Cena co-founder Bridgie Casey said Travellers would have a sense of “ownership” because they would be at the centre of planning, design and delivery.

“As a Traveller working with the Travelling community, supporting people with accommodation issues over the last number of years, I have seen my people living in appalling conditions,” she said. “This has led them to feel segregated and isolated.”

Pilot phase

Jack Keyes, a former manager in Cavan County Council who is acting as a consultant to Cena in its pilot phase, said the failure of many local authorities to deliver Traveller housing had been due less to resources and more to attitudes.

He said 11 local authorities had expressed an interest in working with Cena in the pilot phase.

“Most local authorities are very willing to work with and engage with Traveller accommodation programmes, but there is political and residential opposition,” said Mr Keyes. “There is no point denying that. We have seen too many failures in the delivery of Traveller housing.”

He called Cena an “exciting and innovative” approach.

Mr Coffey said he was “fully supportive” of Cena, though warned it was “not all going to be easy” and that he would want it to become “self-funding”.