I am particularly grateful to the Ceann Comhairle for affording me the opportunity to raise this matter as a Topical Issue matter today. Tá mé fíorbhuíoch dóibh go léir. It is an important issue and I am glad the Minister of State, Deputy English, is in the Chamber. He knows County Meath well.
I am very worried about the provision of social housing in County Meath. I acknowledge there are projects ongoing, but they are very small in number. My main concern, however, is that they are getting smaller in number over time. When we look towards 2021 or 2022 we are running out of land in the county for direct building by Meath County Council. We are also running out of projects that are currently in planning. As of this month, Meath County Council has 118 houses at construction stage, 47 at tender stage, 168 at design stage and 19 coming through Part 8 developments. While every one of those houses is important, these numbers are too low.
There are also similar projects being done by approved housing bodies, although these are different in that they are not done directly through the county council. Altogether, these projects account for 604 units, some of which have already been delivered because the figure covers the period from 2017 to 2021. These are located in various places and large numbers of them have been bought from private developers, which can cause its own difficulties.
I do not see any landbank owned by Meath County Council on the horizon. As far as I know, the council does not have a policy or budget for buying land. More important in the context of Dáil Éireann is that the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government does not have a policy or budget to acquire a landbank in County Meath. Where will houses be built in the county? Over the decades, our predecessors, especially those from my party, were able to build large housing projects on large tracts of land. It seems that the possibility of doing that is running out. Many of the direct build housing projects that are up and running, either under construction, going through Part 8, out for tender or in the design stage, are filling in pockets of land that Meath County Council had in its ownership over the years. I do not see beyond that where Meath County Council will be able to build and I do not see the plans for that. This will require a major Government intervention.
It is crazy that by the end of September, 101 couples without children and 23 households with children had been added to the homeless list in County Meath this year. While some of the 53 children in question were placed by homeless services in rented accommodation, that is still a frightening statistic. Every day, the Minister of State and I get emails from families who are about to suffer homelessness. A number of reasons have been given by the county council but the main problems are the issuing of notices to quit and insecure rental. Mortgages are not as much of a problem as rents. So far this year, 762 new applications for social housing support have been granted in Meath. We need much more of a vision for large-scale development in which the State can get involved. This would also have a very positive impact on the housing market. Rather than simply filling in small pockets of land in the county, where is the vision? Where are we going to build houses in future?