One in four so­cial houses turned down de­spite cri­sis

Some ap­pli­cants have re­fused of­fers of so­cial hous­ing be­cause of the in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tion

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - News - Philip Ryan Po­lit­i­cal Cor­re­spon­dent

MORE than one in four peo­ple of­fered so­cial hous­ing turned down an of­fer of per­ma­nent ac­com­mo­da­tion from Dublin City Coun­cil but kept their po­si­tion on the hous­ing list, ac­cord­ing to new fig­ures ob­tained by the Sun­day In­de­pen­dent.

The coun­try’s largest lo­cal author­ity of­fered 1,009 houses to peo­ple on the list last year but al­most 300 ap­pli­cants ei­ther turned down or did not re­spond to the of­fer of so­cial hous­ing.

Al­most 200 peo­ple turned down the of­fer be­cause they be­lieved the ac­com­mo­da­tion was “not suit­able” for their needs. Rea­sons in­cluded the prop­erty be­ing too big or too small.

Ap­pli­cants have also turned down of­fers of apart­ments be­cause they are on the ground floor of a com­plex — or be­cause they are too high.

A se­nior Gov­ern­ment source said so­cial hous­ing has been turned down in some in­stances due to the in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tion.

“Houses have been turned down be­cause peo­ple didn’t like the colour of the car­pet,” the source said.

In in­stances where an of­fer was turned down, the ap­pli­cant re­mained in the same po­si­tion on the hous­ing list un­til an­other prop­erty be­came avail­able.

In June and July this year, the coun­cil of­fered 414 houses, 27pc of which were turned down, ac­cord­ing to in­ter­nal coun­cil fig­ures.

The re­fusal rate in Cork City Coun­cil was far lower than in the cap­i­tal. Up to Au­gust, 300 houses were of­fered to ap­pli­cants on the hous­ing list, 51 of which were turned down.

One ap­pli­cant re­jected the of­fer of an apart­ment be­cause they wanted a house, 12 turned down prop­er­ties they be­lieved were too small, and 38 claimed the prop­erty of­fered to them was not suit­able.

There has been a ma­jor in­crease in the num­ber of so­cial houses ac­cepted in Cork.

A pre­vi­ous study of hous­ing list re­fusals found al­most one in two of­fers in Cork were turned down.

The new hous­ing list fig­ures come as Min­is­ter for Hous­ing Eoghan Mur­phy pre­pares a ma­jor clam­p­down on peo­ple re­fus­ing of­fers of ac­com­mo­da­tion from lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

Mr Mur­phy is also de­vel­op­ing a scheme which would see ap­pli­cants based in cities move up the hous­ing list more quickly if they ac­cepted ac­com­mo­da­tion in a more ru­ral area.

At a re­cent hous­ing sum­mit, lo­cal author­ity chief ex­ec­u­tives raised con­cerns about the num­ber of homes be­ing re­fused by those on the wait­ing list.

Sources at the meet­ing said chief ex­ec­u­tives com­plained that the bu­reau­cracy in­volved in hous­ing some­one means it can take a month to of­fer the same house or apart­ment to an­other ap­pli­cant once it has been re­fused.

Ap­pli­cants can turn down an of­fer of hous­ing with­out af­fect­ing their place on the hous­ing list.

If the lo­cal author­ity thinks the ap­pli­cant is re­fus­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion with­out good rea­son, they can move the in­di­vid­ual down the hous­ing list.

If an ap­pli­cant re­fuses more than one rea­son­able of­fer in any 12-month pe­riod, they can be sus­pended from the list for a year, dur­ing which they can­not claim rent sup­ple­ment.

The Gov­ern­ment has com­mit­ted to in­creas­ing the num­ber of so­cial hous­ing units con­structed in the com­ing years as part of its at­tempt to al­le­vi­ate the hous­ing and home­less­ness cri­sis.

Mr Mur­phy has com­mit­ted to build­ing 3,800 so­cial houses next year.

CLAM­P­DOWN: Hous­ing Min­is­ter Eoghan Mur­phy

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