Every Town and Village should have Sheltered Housing Units

By Seamus Whelehan

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Cork County Council is planning to take action to improve the quality of life for older people throughout the region.  The Local Authority says it will include plans in the upcoming County Development Plan review for sheltered housing schemes that allow for independent and supported living for retirees.

The County Director of Planning, Michael Lynch, confirmed the move following a request by Independent Cllr Marcia Dalton for an assessment of both public and private elderly housing schemes in the County.  “Older people want to age in their place but without a choice of appropriate housing many cannot.”  That housing needs to be “both purpose built housing dispersed in the community, and dedicated sheltered housing in shared and supported schemes” said Cllr Dalton.

The 2016 Census saw a 19% increase in people aged over 65 and a 15.6% increase in the population aged over 85.  It is estimated the Fair Deal Scheme will increase to €279 million annually by 2031 as the population of retirees grows.

Fianna Fail Cllr Mary Rose Desmond said “if the proper provisions were in place for people to downsize, it would free up the stock of housing to rotate to generations.” She said “there are a number of houses where people have had to avail of Fair Deal Schemes. These houses are unoccupied and cannot be occupied under that Scheme. In a situation where we have a housing crisis that’s quite a contradiction”.

Fine Gael Cllr Anthony Barry said “every single community has this concern where people want to stay in their own community and not go into a Nursing Home.”  He said the Local Authority has a responsibility to “ramp up” a variety of development types that include sheltered housing in the community.

In his report to Council Director of Planning, Michael Lynch said the needs of our aging population will be addressed in the Cork County Development Plan review, through a new housing strategy.

At present 548 independent and supported living units have already been delivered across the County under a €16million Capital Assistance Scheme.   106 units have been delivered in West Cork, 219 in North Cork and 223 in South Cork.

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