ONLY half the potential users of a new computerised system for the allocation of houses are logged on, according to a Council official.
Maurice Manning, Cork County Council’s director of services for housing, confirmed to members of the Western Committee that 1,837 housing applicants in the western division received user IDs and PINs, but only 924 of them have logged onto the Choice Based Letting system.
Mr Manning presented the councillors with a print-out of the 17 houses that have been offered in the western division so far. It showed the number of views each property had, as well as the number of people who made an expression of interest in the properties.
Choice Based Letting – which went ‘live’ in the western division at the start of March – allows people who are on the housing waiting list to view vacant local authority properties online and express an interest in one or more of the houses. After making an expression of interest, the Council may offer the person the house, but if the applicant then refuses it, the person will lose their place on the list.
Of the 17 houses that have been offered in West Cork, a house in Clonakilty had the highest number of views at 1,669, and 67 expressions of interest, while a house in Durrus had the lowest views at 313 and just 22 expressions of interest. Mr Manning confirmed that 11 of the 17 houses have already been allocated, and that three more tenants have been selected. He also confirmed that there have only been two refusals since the scheme was introduced throughout the county.
Some councillors praised the efficiency of the system but others, such as Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) said: ‘It is causing some frustration because people with no connection to the area are being allocated houses.’
Mr O’Sullivan said he was aware of one person who has been on the housing list for 11 years and is ‘getting nowhere.’ He said he knows the pressure on social housing is ‘immense’ and that ‘even those who have quite a good income are finding that there is no place for them to rent or buy.
‘That is the stark reality that people are having to face,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan, who called on Council officials to introduce a new ‘weighting’ system that would allocate additional points to people who are living in the area and have been on the list for a long time.
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) said he, too, was concerned that people are ‘jumping the queue.’ He said since the new system has been introduced, applicants who have been on the list for years are watching applicants from outside the area, but who have a higher points score, getting the houses.The director of services for housing acknowledged that Choice Based Letting has fundamentally changed the way houses are allocated. He said: ‘Any applicant who has been approved in West Cork can apply for any house in the western division.’