Cork County Council told to acquire 1,217 houses

Cork County Council has been instructed by the Department of the Environment to ‘acquire’ 1,217 properties for social housing in the next three years, mainly by building them or leasing from the private sector.

Cork County Council told to acquire 1,217 houses

There are fears that the council may not be able to deliver on Government targets for social housing because it is short of staff and may not be able to purchase properties as landlords hold onto them in the belief they will get better prices as the economy picks up.

The department has set aside €80.6m to acquire the properties throughout the county up to the end of 2017.

Assistant county manager Tom Stritch told a meeting of the council’s Northern Division in Mallow yesterday that 401 houses would be “new builds” or purchased from the private sector.

A further 664 will be acquired through leasing and another 152 through the Rental Accommodation Scheme, while repairs will be speeded up on a number of council houses that have been unoccupied for a considerable length of time.

The cash injection was seen as good news for those who have spent years on the housing waiting, but that may not be the case.

Fianna Fáil councillor Kevin O’Keeffe said property owners had told him they want to hold onto houses until the market improves. He added that rents “had gone through the roof” and families could not keep up.

Party colleague Frank O’Flynn agreed, declaring government pronouncements on social housing as “nothing but spin”.

He criticised the fact that council officials were unable to provide him with areas where houses would be built, or when programmes would start. The officials said they were preparing a report on their plans.

Sinn Fein councillor June Murphy said there was a considerable housing crisis in the county and that the council couldn’t cope and was referring people to homeless services.

Labour councillor Noel McCarthy said there was only one three-bedroom house available in Fermoy and he could not see where the properties were going to come from.

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