A mother and her two young children are living in a storage space in an attic provided by her parents after the young family had to leave their home due to soaring rents.
Meanwhile, the mother of a four-year-old girl has moved back into a family home but substance abuse is rife there and she is worried her daughter might ingest drugs by accident, or injure herself with a contaminated needle.
And a family of four who also moved back in with relatives are sleeping in a kitchen. One of the children was studying for the Leaving Certificate and her brother was doing the Junior Certificate.
The cases were among the many examples cited by county councillors to highlight a growing housing crisis, especially in Metropolitan Cork where rents have risen rapidly.
Cllr Des O’Grady (SF) outlined two of the cases, having received a report from council officials on the current housing waiting list. Cllr Frank O’Flynn (FF) provided details of the third case.
Mr O’Grady was told there were 7,814 approved applicants for housing on the council waiting list on July 1.
Mary Ryan, director of the council’s housing services, said 111 (1.4%) of that number had been approved because they were deemed to be living in overcrowded conditions.
Mr O’Grady claimed the figure for people living in such conditions was actually far higher and would rise further as young families are finding it increasingly difficult to afford soaring rents in Cork suburbs.
He said he was aware of a number of such cases and was particularly concerned about some individuals, especially a mother and child living with a family that has a history of substance abuse.
Cllr Melissa Mullane (SF) said she had also come across cases of overcrowding, and questioned if the Government should be paying rent supplement to landlords who are “squeezing” people into properties.
Ms Ryan said that, so far this year, 191 applicants on the waiting list had been housed. Of that, 137 were given homes in council-owned or leased properties and the remaining 54 catered for by voluntary housing agencies.
Mr O’Grady said the housing waiting list was increasing all the time so the council was “basically standing still” on making a dent in the figures.
Cllr Noel Collins (Ind) said that, despite promises by government last January that a major injection of capital was approved for the council, it had built no houses this year. “It’s the worst housing crisis I’ve seen in my 49 years as a councillor,” said Mr Collins.
Mr O’Flynn said: “Waiting lists for housing are increasing by the hour, not the day. I think the figure of 111 for those deemed to be living in overcrowded accommodation is far too low.”
Ms Ryan’s report also revealed that, to date this year, 73 approved applicants had refused properties offered to them by the local authority.
Mr O’Grady questioned why the matter was disclosed in the report.
He was told by county council chief executive Tim Lucey that officials felt the disclosure was relevant.
The Irish Examiner had previously disclosed that a woman had refused to be housed in Cobh because she was worried she would get sea sick as the house overlooked the harbour. Another approved applicant had re-fused a house as the garden was too small for her son’s trampoline.
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