Council seeks release of houses in unfinished estates

People on the housing waiting list in County Cork may get a boost if the local authority is successful with its plea to the National Housing Agency (NHA) to instruct Nama to allocate vacant homes.

Members of the council’s Northern Division are writing to the NHA asking it to release houses, in unfinished estates, to the local authority so it can utilise them for families in dire need of proper accommodation.

Council officials have been in preliminary discussions with Nama and although they identified needs in certain areas they haven’t been officially offered any properties because such a hand-over has to be sanctioned by the NHA.

Cllr Tim Collins (Ind) said there were plenty of Nama-owned houses around the county which should be grabbed by the council, including Kanturk where there were a large number of people on the housing list.

“We are crazy leaving houses idle when we (the State) could be getting money coming in through rents,” Cllr Collins said.

Councillors Frank O’Flynn and Kevin O’Keeffe both said if such houses remained unoccupied they would simply fall into ruin and that was a false economy.

It’s understood council officials have identified 93 properties in the county which would immediately facilitate the needs of applicants on the waiting list.

It’s also emerged that voluntary housing agencies such as Cluid and Respond have acquired a number of former Nama properties for social housing purposes.

However, it has been suggested voluntary groups have the clout financially to be able to borrow to pay for them.

Cllr Melissa Mullane (SF) said the council didn’t have the same borrowing capacity to buy Nama homes and this shouldn’t be the case.

Cllr Gerard Murphy (FG) agreed and maintained there should be a level playing pitch between the local authority and voluntary housing agencies in this regard.

Meanwhile, Cllr John Paul O’Shea (Ind) said he was concerned about the number of vacant local authority homes. He said there were 115 vacant properties in the north Cork region, of which 78 had remained idle for a considerable length of time and this was unacceptable with huge waiting lists.

Mary Ryan, the council’s director of housing, said she hoped new measures being adopted by the council would lead to houses being reoccupied more speedily than in the past.

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