Young couples seeking to purchase affordable housing sites in Co Cork will have to wait at least two years because the Government has so far failed to provide the funding to the council.
In its 2018 budget, the Government announced it was restarting the affordable housing scheme. This offers people who are above the threshold for social housing qualification, but who do not earn enough to buy a home on the current market, the opportunity to acquire subsidised sites.
Councillor Seamus McGrath sought a report on what affordable housing schemes Cork County Council had sought funding for from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.
The council’s director of housing, Maurice Manning, said it had requested grant aid from the department to provide serviced sites for nearly 250 homes.
Mr Manning said the sites are all on council-owned land and it would cost €13.8m to provide them with services such as water, sewerage, and roads.
The council envisages that 50 houses could be built at the Commogue, Kinsale; 17 at Beechgrove, Clonakilty; 50 at St Joseph’s Road, Mallow; 38 at Kilnagleary, Carrigaline, and 44 and 45 respectively at Broomfield and Abbeywood in Midleton.
Mr McGrath was told that the council applied for the grant aid back in July and is still waiting for the money.
He said that in the midst of a housing crisis, this delay is unacceptable.
“It’s not happening fast enough and the urgency is not there,” he said. “I’m not blaming the council, it’s the department. It’s moving at a snail’s pace.
There will be no affordable housing provided for at least 18 months to two years when you take into account construction. We need to inject a sense of urgency here.
Councillor Kevin Murphy said: “We’re looking for final approval for funding. We should try and get this money drawn down.”
He pointed out that the six sites chosen by council officials are in the “most needy areas” where many couples simply cannot afford to buy their own homes.
“People can’t even rent somewhere in Kinsale anymore, it’s gone that bad,” he said.
Councillor Gearoid Murphy said that the issue of affordable housing was one of the biggest topics raised by people when councillors were on the campaign trail for the most recent local elections.
Councillor Frank O’Flynn said he understood that the council was only starting the process, but he felt that there should be more affordable sites identified in the North Cork area apart from Mallow.
He said that there is also a huge demand for such sites in Fermoy and Mitchelstown.
“It’s very disappointing to see we have a list of projects ready to go, that we have a list here but still no funding for them,” he said.
County council chief executive Tim Lucey said that with planning permission and design and construction of the necessary infrastructure it “would be at least another two years minimum” before any of the 250 homes would get under way.