24 May 2022

Department hails drop in Offaly social housing list but councillors say it's 'getting worse'

Department hails drop in Offaly social housing list but councillors say it's 'getting worse'

Department hails drop in Offaly social housing list but councillors say it's 'getting worse'

The number of people waiting on the social housing list in Offaly has halved since 2016, according to new figures, despite councillors in the county claiming the situation is disimproving. 

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien, has welcomed the figures published in the 2021 Summary of Social Housing Assessments (SSHA).

They show a substantial reduction of 55% in the Offaly social housing waiting list since the first annual assessment was conducted in 2016.

The 2021 Summary of Social Housing Assessments (SSHA) shows 472 households in Offaly were assessed as being qualified for, and in need of, social housing support as of November 17, 2021. This figure is down 15 (3%) from 487 households recorded on November 2, 2020. This figure also represents a total decrease of 570 (55%) households since 2016 when annual recording of the SSHA began.

Despite this apparent reduction in the waiting list, several councillors told a recent meeting of Offaly County Council that they are far from happy with the situation and something focused and determined needs to be done to tackle the problem. They claim the situation is actually getting worse.

Director of Services Sharon Kennedy told the meeting that the housing section in the Council is a very busy section. “It has been a very difficult couple of years. We have a big plan of work in front of us.

“There is a significant housing waiting list and a significant list of people seeking grants and housing loans.

“We also hope to reactivate estate management committees to try and instil in some people a pride in their estates.

“There is good news in the fact the social housing disabled grant has increased from €120,000 to €958,000.”

As of January 31 this year 492 applicants in Offaly are on the social housing list; 791 are on Housing Assistance Payments; 314 are on RAS; and 67 are on mortgage to rent.

Seven families are suffering from homelessness in the county; and 16 single people are without a home.

The newly released Department of Housing data states that, nationally, 59,247 households were assessed as being qualified for social housing support as of November 17, 2021, down 2,633 (4.3%) from 61,880 households on November 2, 2020. This figure is a reduction of 32,353 (35.3%) since 2016.

The Minister also published the social housing statistics for Quarter 4 2021. Nationally, a total of 4,010 social homes were delivered in Quarter 4, including 2,053 new build social homes, 810 acquisitions and 1,147 homes delivered through leasing programmes. 

Overall in 2021, a total of 9,183 new social homes were delivered, an increase of 17% on 2020 figures. This total includes 5,202 new build homes (an increase of 2.6% on 2020), 1,270 acquisitions and 2,711 homes delivered through leasing programmes.

The Minister welcomed the publication of the data, noting that for a fifth consecutive year the overall number of households on local authority waiting lists continued to decrease. He also welcomed the fact that 9,183 social housing solutions were found for people despite the significant impact which the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent construction sector shutdowns had on efforts.

Commenting on today’s figures, Minister O’Brien said: “These results are evidence that Government investment in social housing supports is working for Offaly. Nationally, over 23,300 households had their housing needs met in 2021 – this is despite the very significant impact the Covid-19 pandemic had on delivery. It’s important to remember that most residential construction was halted for a 13-week period from January to April. 

“We must not, and will not, lose sight of the fact that there are still just over 470 households in Offaly who are relying on us for the provision of housing support. Housing for All, which was launched six months ago, sets us on a pathway to delivering 90,000 new social homes between now and the end of 2030. This year we will be investing more than €4bn to deliver 11,820 new social homes in 2022, including 9,000 new build social homes. 

“As with all Departments, we are watching the situation in Ukraine closely. The Russian invasion is having significant impacts on all sectors of society and our goal is to provide shelter and accommodation for those fleeing war while protecting to the greatest extent possible, Housing for All delivery at its existing pace.

“The strong pipeline of home building activity is encouraging. New figures show that in the past twelve months (March 2021 to February 2022), Commencement Notices for the construction of 33,006 new homes were received. This is the highest rolling 12-month total since comparable data was first published. Specifically related to social housing, the Construction Status Report for Quarter 4 2021, showed that there were 8,749 social homes onsite at the end of December, with a further 10,455 homes at various stages of design and procurement. Supporting local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies to increase housing construction is a priority for my Department.” 

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