Social housing figures revealed
An applicant has been on Kilkenny County Council’s social housing list for over 18 years with the local authority building fewer than 20 homes in five years, the Kilkenny People can exclusively reveal.
In response to a Freedom of Information request, the council confirmed that the cost of social housing builds last year was over €2.7 million with 18 houses built.
The average cost to build each of the houses was €153,750. There are also 41 social houses in progress this year at a cost of €6.7 million with an average cost per house of €165,000.
The council were asked for the top five longest times an individual or family, still on the social housing list, have been on it.
These include applicants on the list since: February 1999, August 2000, November 2000, June 2003 and March 2004.
However there were also a number of houses offered to applicants that were refused. There have been 112 refusals since 2013 and the most common reasons given were proximity to services, lack of transport, change of need or change in area of preference.
Meanwhile there are 28 units currently vacant across the county with a total of 2,328 social houses occupied.
Kilkenny County Council says there are a number of ways in which it can provide social housing.
These include Direct Builds where the council contracts a builder to build houses, the building of social houses through Approved Housing Bodies where the AHBs build and maintain the houses but they are allocated to persons on the council’s housing list.
Then there is Acquisitions where the council buy houses on the market and rented properties from the private sector through the Housing Assistance Payment Scheme and/or the Rental Accommodation Scheme. Before Rebuilding Ireland - a government action plan to increase the delivery of homes - the council had a stock of approximately 2,300 social housing units.
If Rebuilding Ireland is translated into a number of additional social housing units for Kilkenny it comes to approximately 820 additional units from any one of the four options available to the council for the provision of social housing.
The council says there were 95 new social housing units delivered under Rebuilding Ireland for which construction commenced or was completed over the past 12 months with an additional 110 units identified with Approved Housing Bodies.
The local authority has bought over 30 properties to date on the market in 2017 and bought a similar number in 2016.
At this point in time there are over 1,100 HAP and RAS properties in Kilkenny.
Local Fianna Fáil Councillor, Peter Cleere, said: “It’s absolutely unbelievable to think that people, many of them our most vulnerable in society have been on the list this long. There is a serious shortage of housing supply in Kilkenny and has been for the last 10 years.
“The government needs to release the necessary funds immediately to allow the local authority build social houses. The housing staff in Kilkenny County Council work tirelessly for the betterment of the county.
“But they are absolutely starved of the resources - both financial and man power - and until this issue is sorted the harsh reality is the housing list is set to increase.”