The housing crisis in Kerry is becoming “unsolvable”, Kerry County Council has been told. Some 5,073 applicants await housing, amid fears they will not be eligible to purchase their house under a new scheme.
The households are assessed as having a housing need right now, and 50% of those are single and in need of a one-bedroom property, housing officers told a special housing meeting of Kerry County Council in Tralee.
Single adults with a child, or children, make up a further 22% of those in need of housing.
About 80% of all applicants, as well as current council tenants of more than 4,000 properties, rely on social welfare for their income and would not be eligible to purchase their houses under the new tenant purchase scheme of the Housing Act, 2014, the meeting was told.
The scheme was “very complex” and was linked to income, rather than to length of tenancy, as was previously the case. The tenant had to have “at least” €15,000 reckonable annual income.
“At the moment, 80% of our tenants will not qualify under the scheme,” said housing officer, Kathleen Curtin. Councillors urged a minimum of two-bedroom builds, to accommodate single applicants. Many were separated, but would still have visiting children and would need more than one bedroom. Seamus Cosai Fitzgerald (FG) said housing was now the biggest issue facing the council, adding “housing has become the same as planning of 10 years ago”.
John Brassil, of FF, said it was becoming “an unsolvable” crisis in Kerry and, at the rate of current housing provision (the council allocated 146 houses in 2015 and secured 261 leases), the housing list would reach 6,500 in just five years.
The money for maintenance amounted to just €50 a property and there was no money for window or door replacement. Several councillors said a scheme to renovate properties to encourage owners to let was needed. The last census found there were more than 10,000 vacant properties that were not holiday homes.
“In and around Killarney, there are numerous houses vacant,”said Danny Healy- Rae (Ind).
The €50 for maintenance wouldn’t pay for the diesel for the investigative officer to go out and look at the house, he said. “There’s a serious problem with single men and single women. They seem to get left behind, if they are 40 or at 39 years of age and are left there [on the waiting lists] till they are in their 60s.”
One woman, who secured a house before Christmas, was 70 and had been on the housing lists since 2002; there were similar situations, said Mr Healy-Rae.
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