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'We're sick waiting': Oliver Bond residents call for fast-tracking of regeneration works

Residents of Oliver Bond House say they been told it will be ‘at least 15 years’ before they can expect completion of the long-promised regeneration programme.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie
Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

A CAMPAIGN TO be launched later today will highlight the “staggering” number of people living in poor conditions in a Dublin South Inner City complex.

Residents of Oliver Bond House are now calling on Dublin City Council (DCC) to fast-track regeneration plans for the area and put in place immediate interim improvements which will make the estate more liveable. 

They say they have been told that it will be “at least 15 years” before they can expect completion of the long-promised regeneration programme.

The new campaign, ‘We’re Sick Waiting – A Campaign for Better Housing Conditions’, claims that 83% of residents are living with mould and damp and that nearly three quarters have poor insulation which makes it impossible to keep their homes warm.

Over 55% of residents have been told by a medical practitioner that damp, mould or sewage is contributing to ill-health in their families, according to campaigners, while over one in three (35%) also report sewage problems. 

Over a third also report that they continue to have problems with pests, including rats, and double that number say that they do not have adequate pest and vermin refuse storage facilities. 

Built in 1936, Oliver Bond House is one of the oldest and largest flat complexes in Dublin City with 397 units and approximately 1,200 residents.

Residents said they are “extremely disappointed and disheartened” with the response from DCC and the Government in response to their requests for interim improvements.

They added that they have persistently asked DCC to carry out an independent environmental survey of damp conditions in flats, and to act on the findings and have also asked for a definite timetable for regeneration works and the plan for decanting, where families are moved while work takes place.

“None of these requests have been responded to adequately,” said residents, which they added has “damaged the community’s appetite” for engaging with the council and their trust in the overall regeneration plans.

The survey on environmental conditions was distributed to all 395 households in the estate in March 2021 by the Oliver Bond Residents Group.

Nearly half of the surveys, totalling 186, were completed, indicating the pressing importance that current dire housing conditions represents to residents, according to the organisers.

“We are literally sick waiting, physically and mentally,” said Lynette Lyons, a member of the Oliver Bond Residents’ Group.

“We are living with damp and mould that we have to wipe down weekly. We can’t keep clothes in our wardrobes. We have to wipe down our children’s schoolbags. Most of the windows are ill-fitting, old and draughty. It’s impossible to keep the flats warm.”

She added that older people and children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the cold and damp conditions.

“It’s frustrating to see our dreams and our rights to adequate housing pushed back, year after year.”

Lyons added that residents are “realistic” and know that regeneration won’t happen immediately. 

“But we just can’t be asked to wait another 15 years – until 2036 – for it to be completed.  This regeneration plan was first presented eight years ago and it still hasn’t even started,” she said. 

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“An entire generation will be forced to live in dire, unsafe and unhealthy conditions in the meantime. Many older residents will pass away in these conditions.”

Over two-thirds are concerned about anti-social behaviour and criminal activity in and around the complex, which, they say, is often by outsiders and is having a negative impact on young people in particular.

 Residents will be setting out six areas at today’s launch where they believe interim improvements can be made immediately, by replacing the windows, painting balconies and stairwells, erecting external gates for improved safety and security. 

They also want to improve children’s play facilities and ensure more timely maintenance while trying to improving consultation and engagement with locals. 

Nearly 70% of residents said that they have not made a complaint to Dublin City Council because they don’t think it will make any difference.

In a statement, Dublin City Council said that the regeneration is a ‘priority’ in its programme of doing up older flat complexes in the city and it is currently finalising its plan to do so. 

The council also said that it ‘actively engages’ with residents to address issues brought to their attention. 

Our colleagues at Noteworthy want to look into why people are still being exposed to mould, sewage and pests in local authority housing. Support this project here 

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