Details emerged last night of how at least one of the 27 applicants who refused offers of a home in the Elderwood estate off Cork’s Boreenmanna Road cited the lack of a bus route as the main reason for their refusal. Others cited the absence of both a front and back garden.
The new development of two and three-bedroom duplexes, and four-bedroom terraced homes, was built over the last two years by Paul Montgomery and Supply Ltd.
They bought the 5.5 acre site from the city for a little more than €7 million and under the terms of the deal, provided 20% of the units to help meet the city’s social housing needs.
The city acquired 47 units — a mixture of four-bedroom terraced homes and two and three-bedroom duplexes.
Elderwood is a well designed mix of social and private units and includes a crèche and parking for 200 cars.
Páirc Uí Rinn, Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Cork Constitution sports grounds are nearby. Schools and shops are within walking distance and the city centre is less than 3km away.
The spacious social homes come complete with built-in furniture, fitted kitchens, and fully tiled bathrooms.
The gardens behind the houses are fully fenced in and come complete with a patio.
The city’s number 2 bus service stops a few metres from the estate via a walk along Crab Lane.
There are also plans to extend the number 10 route to serve the estate.
Labour councillor Denis O’Flynn said: “This is a state-of-the-art development. The finish and quality is top class. You could play football in the bedrooms of some of the houses.”
Refusing a unit in this development because a bus doesn’t stop nearby was simply unacceptable, he said.
“I find it unbelievable that people are turning them down, while at the same time complaining about the length of the housing lists.
“Other people who accepted homes in this estate have phoned me to say Christmas had come early. They are delighted with them.”
Homes and apartments in the development have been sold privately for between €360,000 and €400,000.
If those purchasers took a €368,000 mortgage — the maximum available on a €400,000 property — with AIB over 30 years on a standard variable rate, their monthly repayments would be €1,994.
Under the terms of the social housing scheme, applicants who accept the offer of a home have to pay 15% of the household’s total income.
For applicants with the average industrial wage of €30,000, this would mean a monthly repayment of a mere €375.
Housing list critic, Socialist Party Cllr Mick Barry, said in his experience people usually have a good reason for refusing homes.
“Often times, the offer is made in an area which is such a distance from where kids are going to school that to accept the offer would cause real difficulties for the family,” he said.
“It is unfortunate that a Labour councillor is now joining with conservative FF, FG and PD councillors in trying to manipulate statistics put out by the council’s housing department in order to put the blame for social housing lists on the very people who need social housing.”
There are 6,100 eligible applicants on the city’s social housing waiting list with 1,016 awaiting assessment, according to the latest figures.