Charities sound alarm after waiting lists for houses rocket
THE NUMBER of people in need of social housing has soared by over 30pc in just three years with over 56,000 new homes now needed to meet demand.
Most people need the Government to step in and provide accommodation because of sky-high prices charged during the boom years.
Figures released last night show that waiting lists for social housing have doubled in over a dozen local authorities, with 56,249 homes now needed.
This compares with 42,946 just three years ago when the last assessment was compiled.
The amount of time people are spending on housing lists has also risen, with waits longer than two years now commonplace.
But homeless groups said last night that the true picture could be much higher, given the significant increase in home repossessions this year and illegal evictions.
MakeRoom, an alliance of Focus Ireland, the Simon Communities of Ireland, the Society of St Vincent de Paul and Threshold, described the figures as "deeply worrying" and said the level of need was likely to be even higher than the reported figure.
"That the number of households on the housing waiting lists has increased by 30pc in three years is shocking," a spokesman said.
"On the basis of these figures, housing need has doubled in the past decade. These figures were collected in March of this year, since then the recession has led to a significant increase in home repossessions and illegal evictions.
"By the end of 2008, the level of need will be much higher than the 59,000 reported. This means more people at risk of homelessness and more people in housing need.
"Government is going to have to radically revise its social housing programme for 2009 if this spiralling level of housing need is to be brought under control."
The figures show:
l Dublin City Council has seen a fall in numbers requiring accommodation, from 5,540 homes in 2005 to 4,885 last March.
l The number rocketed in South Dublin County Council, from 1,656 to 4,259. Hikes were seen in most local authorities, including Limerick City Council from 845 in 2005 to 1,724, Meath (606 to 1,233), Kildare (1,583 to 2,392) and Wicklow (585 to 948).
l Housing demand fell in just 18 of the 88 local authorities surveyed.
l More than half (53pc) of applicants need housing because they are priced out of the market.
l Single adult households account for 45pc of the households in need.
l 77pc of applicants are Irish nationals, 12pc are EU nationals and the remainder are non-EU.
l EU nationals in need of housing has risen by 141pc, with Non-EU nationals rising by 82pc.
l Two-thirds of applicants are aged under 40.
Other authorities that saw large increases include Waterford county, Wexford borough and the town councils of Athlone, Athy, Cobh, Dungarvan, Enniscorthy, Fermoy, New Ross, Trim and Tullamore.
Reductions in net need were seen in Waterford City, Kerry, Monaghan, and Tipperary South county councils and also in the town councils of Ballinasloe, Carrickmacross, Cashel, Castleblaney, Cavan, Kilrush, Letterkenny, Listowel and Westport.
Housing Minister Michael Finneran said that the Government had been responding to the increased social housing need by expanding its social housing investment programme.
"Indications are that the public housing programme will provide over 9,000 new dwellings in 2008 through a combination of local authority construction and acquisition programmes," he said.
"While recognising the difficulties currently facing the public finances the Government is committed to continued high levels of investment in the social housing sector.
"The provision of over €1.5bn for social housing in the 2009 Estimates is clear evidence of this."
Mr Finneran has previously ruled out buying the 50,000 empty homes in so-called 'ghost estates' to make up the shortfall, saying it was not the job to Government to bail out developers.