Calls for council to build its own social housing schemes

Cork County Council is not buying the right type of private houses for those on the waiting list and should be building major social housing schemes itself to address the current housing crisis.

Several hours were spent yesterday debating the government and county council’s response to the crisis.

A report sought by councillor Melissa Mullane on housing acquisitions showed that private houses being purchased by the council were not addressing the type of demands of the more than 7,000 on the waiting list.

Councillor John Paul O’Shea said around 70% of those on the waiting list were seeking one or two-bed apartments, but the local authority was purchasing homes which were usually three or four-bed properties.

Ms Mullane agreed and said that purchasing just 119 homes last year was a very low figure and the council expects to buy just 70 this year, which she described as a drop in the ocean.

She said she was also concerned that there were three houses purchased in 2016 which were still unoccupied.

Councillor Des O’Grady said the council should be building housing instead.

“Anway, there are 13,500 vacant houses in the county and we should be getting them through Compulsory Purchase Orders,” he said. “There needs to be a big shake-up in housing policy from the government and local authority.”

Councillor Kevin Murphy said it was “ridiculous” that the council had to get approval from the Department of Local Government for every private house it purchased as this was holding things up.

Councillor Michael McGrath said being able to buy private properties meant the council was competing with first-time buyers, which he was not happy with.

“In Blarney/Macroom municipal district council area there were just four acquisitions last year. That’s a joke,” said councillor Kevin Conway.

“We buy where the demand is,” the council’s deputy chief executive Declan Daly told him. He said the number of one- and two-bed apartments being built by developers was miniscule and acknowledged that was a problem.

Mr O’Grady then tabled a motion that Cork County Council directly engage in the construction of large-scale mixed use social and affordable housing projects.

However, councillor John O’Sullivan said there are not enough trades people available, as many emigrated during the recession.

“We have to work out how we can deliver the largest amount of houses for the money we’re allocated, even if we then employ private developers to do it on our behalf,” he added.


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