Friday 28 October 2016

'Shocking' 60pc rise in people on social housing waiting list

Barry Cowen TD
Barry Cowen TD

The number of people waiting on social housing has rocketed by as much as 60pc in Dublin.

There are now 44,164 on lists of people seeking social housing in the four local councils in the Dublin area, a jump of 12,350 in the past two years.

And the number of people nationally on social housing waiting lists shot up by more than 40,000 to 130,000 in the same period - a 45pc increase.

The new figures, obtained by Fianna Fail under Freedom of Information provisions, revealed a surge of 45pc in social housing waiting lists across the country since 2013.

A Government spokesman said its official figures involved analysis which removed people whose names who were on the housing lists of more than one council, but a Fianna Fail spokesman said duplicated names would account for less than two percent of total numbers.

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Council had the biggest rise in the region with an increase of more than 60pc to 5,471 people seeking a council home.

In Dublin City, the figure climbed by almost 30pc to 21,015. Lists grew by 47pc in Fingal to 8,871 and by 41pc in South Dublin to 8,807.

Fianna Fail accused the Government of "grossly underplaying" housing list levels by not updating the official 2013 figures despite the explosion in current list sizes.

Fianna Fail Environment spokesman Barry Cowen has described the change as a "shocking secret surge" in numbers on housing lists.

"Minister Kelly claims that he has the housing crisis under control. However these figures reveal that the crisis is far worse than we imagined," said Mr Cowen.

"Up until the end of 2014, it (the Government) only built 1,252 new units, compared to 15,000 units built between 2007-2010.

"This is the primary cause of this emergency," he said.

Fianna Fail has proposed building 45,000 new social housing units by 2021 as part of an overall plan for the construction of 150,000 new homes.

A spokesman for Environment Minister Alan Kelly hit back by accusing Deputy Cowen of using bluff and bluster and "counting apples as oranges".

"There is a crater-sized hole in Fianna Fail's housing policy that he (Cowen) never mentions - namely that they want to use commercial funding to build social housing which is a misnomer and will not help put a roof over a single low-income family," said the spokesman.

The spokesman also claimed that Fianna Fail failed to allocate funding for house purchases or leases for low-income households in their pre-budget submission.

Niamh Randall, spokeswoman for the Simon Communities, said there are very real concerns about the Social Housing Strategy targets, and these must be reviewed in advance of the Budget 2016.

"There are 3,285 adults in emergency accommodation and since January there has been increases of over 50pc in the numbers of families (657) and children (1383) in emergency accommodation," she said.

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