ELEVEN people in emergency accommodation in Cork city have rejected offers of social housing since the start of 2018.
The figures were described as ‘bizarre’ by members of Cork City Council, who say they are inundated with requests for housing supports.
It has also emerged that City Hall spent more than €2.8 million on emergency hotel and B&B accommodation to house homeless families and individuals since the beginning of 2016.
Of the 11 refusals, three were due to the lack of garden space. A further three were due to the properties being too small, while others said that they would only accept a City Council house, rather than one provided by an authorised housing scheme or approved housing body.
One property was rejected because the area was ‘too noisy’, with another rejection coming as the applicant would only accept a property on the south side of the city.
The matter was raised at City Hall last night by Fianna Fáil councillor Kenneth O’Flynn, who said the trend raised many questions.
“Eleven people in emergency accommodation — that is hostels and B&Bs — since the start of the year have rejected properties when offered to them,” he said. “This strikes me as absolutely bizarre when we have people calling us every day of the week about housing.”
City Hall’s most recent housing report states that, as of the end of May 2018, 379 ‘unique individuals’ were being supported in emergency accommodation, including hostels and B&Bs. This included 118 who were in emergency accommodation for longer than six months. Mr O’Flynn said that in the current context of housing shortages and escalating numbers reliant on emergency accommodation, the refusals make no sense.
“Perhaps there is something wrong in our system — though this is not the officials’ fault — but there is something wrong somewhere,” he said.
Meanwhile, a report from the city’s housing director Brian Geaney noted that a total of €2.8m was spent supporting 855 individuals in hotels and B&Bs from the start of 2016 until the end of April 2018.
This equates to more than €3,300 per person.
Sinn Féin councillor Mick Nugent said, “I have to wonder about the spend of nearly €3m on hotel and B&B accommodation. Could that money have been better spent in finding permanent solutions? I appreciate the work done by Cork City Council but I would like to see more ambition in the years ahead.”
Fine Gael’s John Buttimer defended the spend on emergency accommodation:
“€3m is a significant amount of money but 855 residents benefited from it, including 343 family units,” he said.
“At an average cost of €225,000 per property, if that money was spent on acquiring houses, it would have delivered just 13 houses.”