BY JACKIE KEOGH
THE county mayor has called for extra resources to tackle homelessness in West Cork.
Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) made the call at a meeting of the Western Committee and also suggested that the administration of the Council’s homelessness service should be reviewed.
Karina Cremin, a senior executive officer with Cork County Council, told the members that the Council’s Housing Assistance Programme (HAP) is one of the ways the local authority is providing help to people threatened with homelessness.
But Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said it is the lack of places to rent, as well as the increased cost of renting, that are the underlying problems.
Cllr Collins described the need for rental properties in Bantry as ‘great,’ but he agreed that a 2020 housing project by Clúid at the former convent site would bring welcome relief.
The project is scheduled to start in the second quarter of the year and included in the overall mix of housing would be smaller units to accommodate singles and couples. It is expected that there will be 11 two-bedroom unit and seven single bed units contained within the project.
At present, the mayor said people can only avail of the Council’s homelessness services if they are officially deemed homeless. He claimed its remit should be expanded to include people who are on the brink of homelessness.
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) agreed that the role of the Council’s place finder officer, and the housing agency Novas, should be expanded to including ‘finding emergency accommodation’.
‘There are gaps in the system,’ said Cllr Hayes, who suggested that they should agree a set of priorities and lobby for the funding to the personnel and services they need.
Seamus de Faoite of the Council’s housing department agreed with the members’ assessment that the rental market in West Cork at the moment is very strong.
The Council’s director of housing, Maurice Manning, assured the councillors that ‘in terms of homelessness, there is funding available and most of what we spend on homeless is recouped from the department. ‘It is not a funding issue.’