AVAILABLE Council housing in West Cork should be allocated to ‘local’ people first, according to several local councillors.
That was the call made at a recent meeting of Cork County Council’s Western Committee, which met in Dunmanway.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said that he is constantly meeting people who have been on the waiting list for years, who are looking for a home in, or close to, the community they grew up in, only to find that a person from outside the area has been offered the vacant house in that community.
‘With the system that is in place now, anyone from anywhere in Co Cork can apply for a home in any part of the county,’ Cllr Carroll said. ‘You could have people from Youghal, for example, getting a house in Schull, when there are people in that area on the waiting list for years. There should be a system where local people are offered these homes first.’
Using Cork County Council’s online Choice Based Letting (CBL) system, housing applicants can log on and submit an expression of interest in any of the housing stock that is available throughout the county.
‘People are frustrated,’ Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) said. ‘It is important for people who come from an area and have ties to the community, to live where they are from. There should be some mechanism for allocating CBL properties where being local is given priority.’
Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said that people in Clonakilty who have been waiting for a house for many years could be faced with the scenario of ‘outsiders’ being allocated homes at the new Council estate in the town, where 56 homes are almost complete.
‘There’s a potential scenario that not one person from Clonakilty will be allocated any of those houses,’ Cllr O’Sullivan said.
However, Cllr Paul Hayes (SF), said that while he can understand people’s frustration, the CBL system was helping with the housing crisis.
‘It is causing frustration for people who have been on a waiting list for eight to nine years, but if somebody who’s homeless gets a house, then good luck to them,’ Cllr Hayes said.
‘It’s a very dangerous road to go down,’ Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) said. ‘Discrimination against someone who needs a home but is not from the area is not where we should want to go.’
Cllr Mary Hegarty (FG) said that West Cork has been ‘enriched by new blood’.
‘This is about getting homes for people who need them, not giving priority to locals,’ Cllr Rachael McCarthy (SF) said.
Cork County Council’s director of housing, Maurice Manning, said that those most in need of housing would be allocated vacant houses, no matter where they come from.