70 homeless families turned down offer of council property last year
Almost 70 families registered as homeless rejected offers of a new house last year, the Herald can reveal.
Figures compiled by the Dep- artment of the Environment show the problem facing local authorities when homeless families turn down accommodation offers.
Overall, there were 96 cases of refusals by individuals or families living in tempor- ary accommodation such as hotels.
Fifty-six of the cases were in Dublin, where the homeless problem is most acute.
Seven were recorded by Fingal County Council, while South Dublin had six.
No cases were registered by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown.
Sources said there were a number of reasons behind refusals.
These ranged from the offer being deemed unsuitable to a family's needs to families simply wishing to remain in temporary accommodation.
Dublin City Council told Independent councillor Mannix Flynn that at the end of last September, 1,025 offers had been made on vacant proper- ties and there were 185 refusals.
Reasons given for offers being deemed refused included that the property was too small or on an upper floor, its loca- tion within an estate; or there was no response to the offer letter.
Other reasons included that the property was not in the preferred area of choice, it was not suitable for the applicant or the applicant wished to remain in private rented accommodation.
Refusals were also made because the applicant wanted a house, not a flat.
The department added that "a fully detailed report on the refusals of council dwellings for 2015 is not yet available".
The Herald revealed last week that Environment Minister Alan Kelly is seeking to tighten the rules surrounding refusals.
Among the measures being considered is reducing the number of refusals allowed from two to one, before an applicant is struck off the social housing wait list.
Mr Kelly has also asked councils to move towards a greater level of "choice-based letting" (CBL), which gives tenants a greater say over where they live.
"CBL is a method that can be used for the allocation of social housing which is designed to offer more choice and involvement for applicant households in selecting a new home, thereby reducing the likelihood of a refusal," the report states.
"The CBL approach also assists in creating sustainable tenancies and promotes the building of settled and stable communities."
The report notes Mr Kelly's "concern" over the level of refusals, adding that "it is his view that the move to a CBL system of allocating tenancies will help address the issue".