Cork County Council say they are ready, willing and able to respond to the current demand for social housing, but lack the approval and funding from central government.
The authority’s director of housing Maurice Manning made the claim following assertions by councillors the County’s housing waiting list “is going nowhere fast.”
According to the 2016 census the county’s population has grown by 4% and its housing stock has increased by just over 1%.
Mr Manning came under fire after his department revealed almost 4,300 families are on the authority’s housing list, a 12% decrease on 2013 figures.
The Director of housing said the delivery of houses is “never as quick as any of us like” but there was progress being made.
This year the authority applied to central Government for €22million to deliver as series of programmes across it housing directorate.
In 2016 the council provided 302 units to those on its waiting list and expect to deliver a further 507 this year.
Of 361 direct construction units 11 are to be built in East Cork 9 at Tower View Cloyne and two in Cobh, one each in Harbour Hill and Belmont Place.
The remaining units are to be provided through property acquisitions and rental / leasing programmes.
The authority are planning on purchasing a number of turnkey units throughout East Cork, 29 at Cul Ard Carrigtwohill (15 of which have already transferred), 32 in College Manor Cobh almost at completion, 61 units at Abbey Wood Midleton have planning permission granted with significant conditions, conveyancing is currently ongoing with the developer.
In Youghal 42 units are planned with planning granted for 2 units with construction expected to commence this September, once funding is secured through the government’s capital assistance scheme. Planning for the remaining 40 units has expired and are awaiting resubmission.
Fine Gael Councillor Deirdre Forde said “the real story behind the housing here is that we maybe meeting the targets in some way, but we are not meeting the need.”
She said there was an urgent need to deliver house building directly, either by the council or at national level.
While the Council maintain they are reaching their government set targets, under the Council’s Choice Based Letting Scheme there were almost 10,500 expressions of interest for 137 properties, which added more fuel to the fire.
Independent Cllr Mary Linehan Foley said “when you have 150 people bidding on one house, that is showing that we are at crisis point.”
3087 social housing applicants have been issued with a user Id and personal identification number yet 40% have yet to use the system.
Cllr Des O’Grady said the report was “very disappointing” and was “an attempt by government to massage figures”
He said “You have over 2,000 families in HAP (Housing Assistance Programme) who are not adequately socially housed. Which would bring the housing list to over 6,000 if included.”
Over 1,000 families are waiting more than 5 years for housing, 635 of which are waiting in excess of 7 years.
Southern Committee Chairman Labour Cllr Cathal Rasmussen added there was concern among Cllrs that “landlords are increasing rents forcing families into homelessness, knowing the council will have to deal with them.”
He said the situation is also leading to those living with friends and family in overcrowded houses presenting to emergency housing in the hope of jumping the queue, making it difficult for council to strike a balance.