Online social housing scheme a success

A pilot scheme to allow people on the housing waiting list apply online for council houses in Cork has been heralded an outstanding success.

The scheme, the first of its type in the country, was recently piloted in the North Cork area by county council officials. Because it has been so successful, it is to be rolled out to the rest of the county.

Figures released by the council’s director of housing, Maurice Manning, show there were 16,599 views of 25 properties in north Cork which were advertised online.

He said the average number of views per property was 663 and average expressions of interest were 41 per property.

One house recorded 118 expressions of firm interest, with the lowest attracting 10. Council officials didn’t say where the house was.

Each person on the waiting list can apply for a special user ID and PIN to log on to the system.

To date 1,574 people on the waiting list in the region have been given IDs and PIN codes for what is known as the Choice Based Letting system.

Both internal and external views of the properties are put online with details about what size of gardens they have, if they have sheds, and what type of heating systems they have.

Mr Manning said that of the 25 properties advertised online, 20 had been given to new tenants.

Two applicants who had been offered two other properties turned them down and one property still remains to be handed over to a new tenant.

Each Wednesday morning vacant properties are advertised on Choice Based Letting and stay online until the following Tuesday when they are taken down and new properties are added.

Council officials said if a person refuses a property, they are prohibited from using Choice Based Letting for a year as a penalty.

The system was launched last December and in its first week of operation, three properties listed on the site received 2,533 views, resulting in 141 expressions of interest.

The most amount of views was for a house at the Shanowen estate, in the village of Rathcormac. It received 1,103 views, with 59 expressions of interest.

Most applicants use their own computers to log on to the system. The council has put special computers in its offices and local libraries to assist people in logging on.

Cllr Kay Dawson (FG) said elderly people would need assistance in logging on to Choice Based Letting and sought assurances that the director of housing wouldn’t remove the computers from council offices.

Mr Manning said the online system had just been rolled out for housing applicants in the West Cork region.

It will go live for people on the waiting list for those who live in the South Cork administration region on March 29.

That region includes people living in the Youghal, Midleton, Carrigtwohill, Cobh, Glanmire, Carrigaline, Ballincollig, Kinsale, and Bandon areas.

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