More than 220 people in Cork city are on waiting lists for private housing grants, and applications have surged over the past year, it has been revealed.
However, Cork City Council has been and will be granted additional resources to tackle the issue, according to the acting director for housing services, Declan Roche.
Housing grants are used to make alterations to a home to make it suitable for a person with a physical, sensory, or intellectual disability; to improve the homes of older people to ensure they can continue living there; and to help with the cost of works to address mobility issues in the home.
The council has confirmed 228 people were on waiting lists for private housing grants in Cork city at the end of June. Some 142 applications related to adaptations including 61 priority one cases. A further 44 related to mobility issues including 12 priority one cases and 42 applications were for elderly cases.
Mr Roche said the council is waiting for further documentation in relation to 60 of the applications currently on the waiting list before they can be processed.
Meanwhile, 268 applications for housing grants were made to the council in the first six months of 2021. Mr Roche said the average annual number received over the previous five years was 327, with the highest amount being 374 in 2020.
"Therefore, the number of outstanding applications has not reduced despite allocating additional resources to the service at the start of the year,” he said.
It is understood that housing grant applications were not deemed an essential service at the beginning of the pandemic and, as a result, some staff were redeployed to other areas.
However, the council’s housing department has received additional resources to tackle the backlog and has approved 165 applications so far in 2021 to the value of more than €660,000.
Mr Roche said it is looking to take on temporary resources to cut the number of unapproved applications over the rest of 2021.
“In the immediate term we are getting two additional staff members. At that juncture, we will have increased the unit’s administrative complement by 50% since the start of the year. We are also likely to draw up additional technical resources over the remainder of the year.”