By Eoin English
A group of protestors have occupied Cork's civic buildings this morning in a protest over the city's social housing crisis.
About 20 protestors are currently protesting in the atrium area demanding urgent investment in social housing in a bid to slash the waiting lists.
They are also highlighting concerns about the government's housing assistance payment scheme.
Information provided to Cork City Council last night indicated that the number of people facing removal from Cork City Council's social housing waiting lists in the aftermath of the Government's new Housing Bill may be higher than originally expected.
In response to a question from AAA councillor Mick Barry, Acting City Manager Dan Buggy stated that the number of rent supplement recipients in the Cork Central Division (which includes part of the county area) is 6,336.
Under the terms of the Housing Bill long-term (18 months) rent supplement recipients will be transferred starting next year to Housing Assistance Payments (HAPs) and removed from the housing lists.
It is estimated that approximately five rent allowance recipients in eight are in receipt of the payment for 18 months or more.
This indicates that as many as 4,000 applicants could be removed from the city's social housing waiting lists under the new arrangements.
Cllr Barry said this morning: "It is clear from the information provided last night by the Acting City Manager that big numbers of people in need of social housing face being removed from the city's social housing waiting lists starting next year.
"The housing waiting lists should be reduced by building and allocating thousands of social houses not by forcing people off the lists to fiddle the figures."