Fianna Fáil Cork North Central TD Billy Kelleher says a new approach needs to be taken to tackle the housing crisis in Cork and across the country.  Last month Deputy Kelleher highlighted the fact that almost 8,000 people are on waiting lists for a home in Cork city alone.  Speaking during a Dáil debate on housing provision, Deputy Kelleher outlined a number of proposals which could ease the problem.

“At the moment there are around 500 vacant units in the city because of delays in allocations.  Under current regulations, the council must revamp houses by removing existing contents and replacing them with new furnishings before it can allocate them to families.  This causes extensive time lags, and can result in homes lying idle for up to three years, at a time when thousands of people are on waiting lists.  The current situation makes absolutely no sense and needs to be reviewed”, commented Deputy Kelleher.

“The council could offer the option of a partial transfer of ownership, whereby the family allocated the home would be prepared to carry out work on the unit themselves, or get a recognised contractor to carry out any repairs or improvements.  This would ensure a quicker handover time, reduce delays and take the problem out of the city council’s hands. This proposal has the potential to be rolled out to thousands of families who would have the option of paying partial rent or undertaking a capital purchase over a specific period of time.

“Many families are already under huge stress and pressure while waiting on housing lists, some in Cork have been on a list for eight or nine years, despite the fact that there are hundreds of vacant properties across the city.  I’ve visited some of these units, which were in perfect order when they were handed back to the council.  All that was needed were new carpets, paint and a check of the electrics.  Those jobs should not take two and a half years to carry out.

“A scheme which includes the partial transfer of ownership would give tenants a sense of pride in their new home.  It’s in their interest to invest in a property if it’s to be their long term home.  The current system for social housing is not working in Cork.  The City Council is only completing 50 properties a year, while 500 remain vacant.  If this rate of completion continues, the problem will never be fully solved.  Minister O’Sullivan needs to examine this proposal as a matter of urgency as it would allow people to move into homes immediately, benefitting communities and local authorities.  It’s a real workable alternative to the current impasse”, concluded Deputy Kelleher.