Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien TD was in Waterford (Friday, June 16th) to announce 277 social and affordable homes at six sites across the city and county.
First port of call was An Garrán in Tramore, where along with Mayor of Waterford City and County, Cllr. John O’Leary, the Minister turned the sod on a new Waterford City and County Council development of 50 A-rated residential units, comprising 6 one-bed, 28 two-bed, 11 three-bed and 5 disabled access two-bed units.
The Minister then visited and met with residents of Slí na Coille, Clúid Housing’s newest social housing development.  The scheme is a mix of houses, apartments and duplexes and provides secure, high-quality homes for 27 families. The residents came from Waterford City and County Council’s housing list and began moving into their new homes in August of 2022.
Mayor O’ Leary said, “It’s heart-warming to visit Slí na Coille.  Having met with the residents there is an evident overarching theme and that is community, the sense of which is palpable.  What started out as bricks and mortar have very quickly been transformed into homes, places of security and belonging for the residents.
“I’d like to commend the dedication of Clúid Housing in bringing this latest scheme to fruition, which brings the number of homes in Waterford owned or manged by them to 231.”
In the city, Minister O’Brien visited Summerfields and met with developers Whitebox Developments.  The development consists of 92 units and form part of Waterford City and County Councils’ Affordable Purchase Scheme, along with the development at Deerpark, which comprises 25 affordable homes. Under the Local Authority Affordable Purchase Scheme, homes are available at a reduced price for first-time buyers whose mortgage and deposit do not cover the price of the home.
At St. Joseph’s the Minister cut the ribbon on an age-friendly housing development on the landmark site of Manor Hill.  The former convent has been transformed into 71 dwellings, with 50 units located within the main building and 21 located in the various out-building clusters on the site, while the former chapel on the site has been repurposed as a community space for multiple uses by tenants.
Over €4.2 million was approved through the Repair and Lease Scheme, funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.  The funding was provided under Housing for All - A New Housing Plan for Ireland.  The Repair and Lease Scheme has been pioneered in Waterford and is a significant driver in providing high quality affordable housing solutions and at the same time has significantly addressed and delivered the return to use of vacant buildings in Waterford.
Minister O’Brien said, “Waterford City and County Council is leading the way in delivering new social and affordable homes, and in particular in tackling vacancy which to be frank is a scourge in many villages, towns, and cities across the country. I can only commend them on what has been a fantastic day, visiting numerous housing developments which are either underway or have just been completed.
“I want to particularly mention the St. Joseph’s development. I visited St. Joseph’s back in March 2022 when works were underway and I am blown away by what I saw today. The progressive nature of this Local Authority has helped to bring that project to fruition and I congratulate everyone involved in it. Housing for All will see us deliver more projects like these, and at scale too,” he concluded.
At St. Joseph’s Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler TD also launched Waterford’s Age Friendly Strategy 2023-2028, saying, “I am delighted to be launching the second ever Waterford Age Friendly Strategy 2023-2028, as we cut the ribbon on an age-friendly housing development on this landmark site. This pioneering development for Waterford, one which I hope to see replicated around the country, sees a former convent and chapel transformed into 71 dwellings and multi-use community space for tenants.
“As Minister for Older People, I look forward to further development of Waterford as a leading age friendly county in the coming years.”
The final visit to Waterford’s housing developments was to Ostmen Place, where the Minster was joined by Waterford Metropolitan Mayor, Cllr. Jason Murphy. Ostmen Place is a new social housing development consisting of 14 new social housing units in Ballytruckle, providing a mix of one, two and three-bedroom units.