The Western Committee of Cork County Council is on target to meet 75% of its housing needs in three years’ time.
That’s the confident prediction of the committee chairman, Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF).
He was speaking after the councillors were presented with an up-to-date housing report by its director of services, Maurice Manning.
Cllr Murphy said: ‘We will see a significant amount of social housing provided. They will all be up to standard and provide very good accommodation for tenants for the next 30 to 40 years.’
He also made the point that nearly all the towns and villages in West Cork can look forward to some good news in that regard.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) agreed that the Council’s commitment to housing in ‘not lacking’ and that great strides had been made, including the three 50-house schemes in Skibbereen, Clonakilty and Macroom, as well as 40 more in Dunmanway.
He did, however, quibble with the Rebuilding Ireland finance package saying: ‘It is only for first time buyers.’
Cllr Carroll said couples that split up and have to start again find – after they have divided their assets – they are ‘falling between two stools.
‘They don’t have enough to qualify for a loan and they don’t have enough individually to buy a house.’
Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) said the housing department under Maurice Manning is doing great work and that is largely due to the fact that the government put the finance in place.
But he too had a quibble. He asked that the Choice Based Letting (CBL) scheme should offer ‘some advantage to local applicants.’
Cllr Carroll agreed saying that none of the six units that were recently allocated in Baltimore went to local applicants.
Mr Manning confirmed the councillors take on the situation saying: ‘We are talking about schemes that are actually on site, not just at planning.’ He also said: ‘A significant need in the county will be dealt with in the next year or two.’
Mr Manning said the Council is not specifically providing houses for locals. ‘Applicants everywhere need to have the same opportunity as anyone else. We believe CBL is working given that each person has three areas of choice and can bid on any property in these areas.’
Addressing concerns that some people might not be aware of, or indeed signed up for CBL, Mr Manning clarified the situation by saying: ‘People have to be on the housing list in order to apply for the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).’
And he said some people who are currently benefiting from HAP payments appear to be ‘satisfied where they are, and have no wish to relocate.’
The director of services for housing highlighted the efficiency of the CBL system saying: The current refusal rate is 6%, it was 30% in the past, so it has increased efficiency.’
Anyone who is offered a house – that they have pre-selected through CBL and subsequently refused – is prohibited from bidding on another local authority house for 12 months.