Saturday 22 July 2017

An extra 1,700 families need social housing amid rent rises and lack of units

The number of families in need of social housing has risen by more than 1,700 compared with three years ago, with the figure for some counties doubling. Stock Image
The number of families in need of social housing has risen by more than 1,700 compared with three years ago, with the figure for some counties doubling. Stock Image
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

The number of families in need of social housing has risen by more than 1,700 compared with three years ago, with the figure for some counties doubling.

Housing Department figures show 40pc of those in need of a home live in Dublin, but the sharpest increase is recorded in Co Roscommon where numbers grew 122pc.

Reasons for increases in waiting lists include rising rental costs, loss of employment and lack of social housing units available. Most are in need of housing because the State is paying a large portion or all of their rental costs or they are living in unsuitable accommodation.

The 'Summary of Social Housing Assessments' report shows that people are on waiting lists for longer, and while social welfare payments are the main source of income for most, the numbers in employment are also growing. One-in-five eligible households is in employment, compared with 15pc in 2013 when the last assessment was completed.

The increase in employed people reflects double-digit increases in rent in recent years, coupled with restrictions on mortgage lending introduced by the Central Bank and rises in house prices. The data shows that the cities and commuter counties have seen sharp increases, with noticeable hikes in numbers recorded in Dublin city, Galway city, Fingal, Limerick city and county, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow.

Conversely, demand has dropped in Cork City by 31.1pc, a fall of 2,000.This is largely due to efforts by Cork City Council to ramp up delivery of social units. The council was due to deliver 1,340 units between 2015 and 2017. To date, 924 have been provided through construction, leasing and a return of empty properties. Another 173 are under construction.

The report also shows:

  • There are 91,600 people who now qualify for social housing. This compares with 89,872 in 2013, an increase of 1.9pc.
  • Some 35,572 households that qualified for social housing support were in one of the four Dublin local authorities, or 39pc. More than half (56pc) were in the Dublin City Council area, which rose to 19,811, up 22.5pc.
  • Just over half (16 of 31) of local authorities saw an increase in demand. The biggest rise was in Roscommon, followed by Leitrim (44.6pc), Galway city (34.4pc) Laois (32.8pc) and Meath (32.3pc).
  • The sharpest drop in demand was in Louth (down 31.7pc), Cork c ity, Carlow (31.1pc), Monaghan (26.1pc) and Donegal (24.4pc). There was also a drop in South Dublin (down 10.5pc).
  • "There are now 5,096 households (5.6pc) that have been on the waiting list for more than 10 years," it says. The average time is three years and nine months compared with two years and eight months in 2013.

Two-thirds rely on the private rented sector to meet their needs, with 21pc living with parents, friends or relatives. And 75pc consist of one adult households, of which 44pc were single people, and 30pc an adult with children.

Irish Independent

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