A local councillor has expressed serious concern at the number of households and individuals on South Dublin County Council’s housing waiting list and across all categories. Derren Ó Brádaigh, a councillor in the constituency of Dublin Mid-West was criticising the government when speaking to what he has described as a housing and homeless ‘catastrophe by design’.
Ó Brádaigh represents families and communities within areas such as Lucan, North Clondalkin, Palmerstown and Balgaddy and says that both he and his colleagues are dealing with a worrying number of people staring into the housing abyss with little or no immediate solutions to offer.
Cllr Ó Brádaigh said “Only recently, I received figures confirming that as of 1st April this year, we had a total of 13,438 adults and children across 5,888 family households on my own local authority housing list here in South Dublin. From the total number 43% are children, giving rise to real social, educational and health related concerns for so many of our younger dependents being afforded the stability required to meet their full development and potential. The figures are extraordinary given that we are only one local authority within just one county. There are 5,094 on the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) transfer list. There are almost 1,300 awaiting housing transfer with 40% having approval on grounds of specific medical requirements. Many of these are also children.
“Every week, we as councillors receive the list of available properties on the council’s ‘Choice Based Letting’ (CBL) housing system. Those that do qualify on the council’s housing list are encouraged to express interest where they feel properties will meet their family needs. Every week I personally find it increasingly difficult to even share this list, as the offerings are simply paltry. Recently, I took a closer look at the actual numbers over the course of the past 16 months, being offered, and by bedroom size on CBL. In all of 2022 there was a meagre 262 homes in total available. This year to date there has been 15 one beds, 48 two beds, 33 three beds and no four-bedroom size units whatsoever.
“Whilst schemes such as the tenant-in-situ is hugely welcome, this in itself is not going to dent the bigger problem. The processes within the scheme itself needs to be examined further in my view, and local authorities need to allocate adequate staffing to deal with expressions of interest by landlords keen to sell to the local authority. Also, greater engagement and sharing of information with both council tenants and private homeowners that may be interested in ‘Rightsizing’ into Age-Friendly council-built developments within existing communities needs to be more accessible, with more of these developments being built. According to 2021 Eurostat data, almost 7 out of every 10 people in Ireland are over-accommodated, that is, living in housing that is too large for their needs. I was happy to support the council’s ‘Rightsizing’ policy when it was introduced 2 years ago, however I believe that most people that could potentially consider such a scheme as an option if they so choose, actually know very little if anything about it.
“Government now needs to recognise and acknowledge the plight of thousands of people and wake up to what the local authority figures are continually telling them each month, and in response declare a national housing emergency. This demands a degree of social conscience, empathy, and ambition to be the driving factors toward the delivery of long overdue and necessary social and affordable homes, to be built on the required scale to address today’s emergency and begin to resolve the over-reliance for far too long on the private rental sector.”