Locals should be given priority for Council houses

Locals should be given priority for Council houses
Cork County Council’s Housing Scheme in Castletreasure, Douglas. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

The Choice Based Letting (CBL) system has been criticised by county councillors for housing people in areas to which they have no connection while leaving locals waiting on the waiting list.

Many councillors believe the system is not working and allows people to bid online for houses anywhere in the county, but does not give preference to locals.

Councillor Diarmaid O’Cádhla (Ind) said disquiet is growing among housing applicants because allocations don’t seem to make sense.

Figures released by Cork County Council officials show 538 social housing units were allocated since January 2016. 

Councillors are now calling for a review by the authority’s strategic housing policy committee to address the criteria of applications and take place of origin into account when reviewing bids through CBL.

Youghal-based Councillor Mary Linehan Foley (Ind) said people from way outside her constituency are being housed, while locals remain on the list. Ms Foley added CBL applicants should only be allowed to bid on the three areas they make a preference for.

“It's not fair on people who have lived there all their lives. Under the CBL system you can apply for a house anywhere,” she said.

Councillor Frank O’Flynn (FF) pointed to figures that show only 71% of people in North Cork are using CBL to bid on houses, while Kieran McCarthy (Ind) said only two council houses out of 18 allocated in Carrigtwohill were occupied by people who are local to the area.

West Cork Councillor Joe Carroll (FF) said he no longer believes in the CBL system while Danny Collins (Ind) said local representatives should have more say in who gets allocated social housing in their constituency so "on the ground" knowledge can be utilised.

Cllr Deirdre Forde (FG) said the system was creating a sense of “desperation” for people applying for housing through CBL and, as a result, people were bidding on houses anywhere they could.

Former county Mayor Seamus McGrath (FF) said Cork County Council would have to do more manage expectation so people are not left “demoralised” when their applications are not successful.

County Council deputy chief executive Declan Daly said that he believed the numbers housed between 2016 and 2017 were “not bad” but it was “highly regrettable” that some applicants should be waiting up to 15 years to be housed.

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