Almost 100 newly completed "rapid-build" houses for homeless families are lying empty because of delays in the securing utility connections, Dublin City Council has said.
Construction of the 38 houses at Belcamp in Darndale, 29 at Mourne Road in Drimnagh, and 24 at Cherry Orchard in Ballyfermot was largely completed between August and September, but the council said it has been unable to hand over keys to families because the houses were not connected to essential services.
Tony Flynn of the council's housing department said he hoped the homes could be occupied on a phased basis from early to mid-November. Difficulties in securing gas, electricity, as well as telecommunications connections, were delaying projects across the city. While the council could control the timing of its own services, it could not control utilities provision.
“Where our destiny moves away from us and we lose our control is electricity, gas and telecommunications. They are the three that we need to grasp.”
He said the council had made the companies aware of its housing programme. “We need the utilities to understand that the development of residential properties, in particular public housing, along with other housing that is required for the city to sustain itself, is of priority.”
The first rapid-build homes for families living in hotels were completed in Ballymun a year and a half ago. In December 2015, with the 22 Ballymun houses under construction, the council issued tenders for more houses in Finglas, Darndale, Cherry Orchard and Drimnagh, with a completion date of June 2016. However, it cancelled the tenders in March as potential housing providers believed the deadline was unrealistic.
The council issued fresh tenders for each of the sites, with completion deadlines from October to December 2016. Tenants began moving into 39 houses at St Helena’s Drive, Finglas, last August, but the other three estates remain empty.
Sinn Féin councillor Daithí Doolan said the utility companies had considerable notice that the unfilled houses were coming on stream.
“The rapid-build houses were originally meant to be completed a year ago. Families are limping week to week in emergency accommodation. There is no excuse in the 21st century for keeping these people out of their homes any longer. I would call on the ESB and gas companies to respond quickly in the context of these and the other developments that are coming down the line.”
However, both ESB Networks and Gas Networks Ireland said they had not been responsible for delaying projects. "ESB Networks has at all times prioritised connections for rapid-build schemes. There has been ongoing liaison with Dublin City Council and the respective developers on provision of electricity connections to each new home," a spokesman said.
All but 13 houses in Belcamp in Darndale had electricity connection, and these would be connected in the coming days, he said.
A spokeswoman for Gas Networks Ireland said all “properties have gas meters fitted, with gas flowing”.