Nearly 90,000 families on social housing waiting list

Wednesday 18 December 2013 22.24
The numbers waiting are much higher than in 2007
The numbers waiting are much higher than in 2007

Latest figures from the Department of the Environment show there are almost 90,000 families waiting for social housing.

The Government has said it will address the issue by providing 5,000 new housing units next year.

There are fewer families on the waiting list than there were in 2011, but that comes as a result of a new way of compiling the figures.

The numbers waiting are still much higher than in 2007.

Most are in the private rented sector, but a small number have mortgages that are not sustainable.

Others are living with friends or family or in emergency accommodation.

It is expected that 5,000 new social housing units will be provided this year and the Department of the Environment aims to provide the same number next year.

Many will come from the not-for-profit sector, but local authorities will for the first time in years build new homes and will be able to apply for funds to refurbish some that have been empty for a long time.

NAMA will have provided 584 homes by the end of this year and it is hoped it will provide another 400 next year.

The department also plans to trial a new system where local authorities will take over the rent supplement payment and pay it directly to landlords.  

Director of Advocacy at Focus Ireland Mike Allen has said we cannot continue to accept Ireland's housing crisis as inevitable due to the country's economic circumstances.

Mr Allen said there is a huge problem about finding homes for those on low incomes.

While he welcomes the fact that a number of new homes are to be built over the next two years, he said it does not go far enough.

He said: "If you look at them building short of a few thousand homes, it's quite clearly a totally inadequate response to the scale of the problem we've got.

"The inevitable consequence of not doing anything about this is more and more people becoming homeless or living in totally unsuitable accommodation.

"Aside from the human cost to them and their families, it's also extremely expensive."

Mr Allen said at the most extreme end, people are being pushed into homelessness.

Focus Ireland has seen almost a doubling of the number of families in Dublin becoming homeless over the last year, he said.

He said there is both a human cost to the problem, as well as a real cost to the State.

Mr Allen said the Department of Social Protection needs to address the issue of rent supplement, because landlords are becoming more and more unwilling to accept the allowance due to the bureaucracy involved with the department.

He said: "That's something that the Department of Social Protection really now needs to address very seriously, unless they want to be fingered as the department that drove people into homelessness during the crisis."

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