Housing list still causing problems
“It feels like you’re not being listened to at all, they treat you like a number”.
Miriam O’Mahony is just one of thousands who has been waiting for a house for the last three years from Cork City Council.
516 houses were identified as being vacant within Cork city after a review by the Council’s Housing department.
However, the housing list continues to grow, with over 7,000 waiting to be placed.
“It’s a disgrace that Cork City Council has that many vacant houses,” said Ms O’Mahony, who currently is in short term housing with support provided by the Sophia Housing Association.
“They try to ignore you and there’s nothing you can do. It feels like they are passing the buck and that you are just a number. They’re not actually listening.”
Ms O’Mahony moved out of her house in Mayfield after it was repeatedly broken into.
She believes that having a stable home will result in a place for her children to play in and stabilise their schooling, improving their family life.
“The council should raise some money to get people off the list,” said Ms O’Mahony.
“It’s just bad form out of the Council not to make the houses available.”
Colette Foster of Sophia Housing Association insisted if the houses were made available, a significant amount of their 91 applicants could be moved on from temporary housing.
“We work very closely with Cork City Council,” said Ms Foster.
“All of our applicants would be also on the waiting list. Our applicants would have different support requirements, ranging from basic parenting to those in education after coming out of homelessness.”
Sophia Housing operates eight short-term supported apartments on Sullivans Quay.
Councillors were critical of the number of vacant houses in the city at Monday’s meeting of Council.
“This is an asset that we are simply not using,” said Cllr Thomas Gould of Sinn Féin.
“This is a crisis by any other name. A home is a basic right and something we should be seeking to achieve for every family.”
Councillors also expressed concern over whether the vacant houses are becoming centres for dumping and anti-social behaviour.
Fianna Fáil’s Cllr Terry Shannon insisted the time has come for the council to be honest with the 7,000 people on the waiting list.
“If we have 7,000 people on the waiting list then we are never going to house them all,” said Mr Shannon, who suggested short term leases could be one solution.
“You need to be honest with people. They expect, as if by right, that they should have a house. We have created expectations that everyone should have a house. We have a small city with a certain amount of green areas available.”
According to the survey conducted over the summer there are 8,831 houses available for rent in Cork City under the control of Council. There are 7,262 eligible applicants for social housing in Cork City with 48 offers made in August of this year. 152 refusals have been registered in 2012 for a variety of reasons.