By Barry Lord @Bazneto
The inordinate waiting times for social housing will continue without an efficient system in place to ensure properties are suitably habitable for families.
This is the view of Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for Simon Communities of Ireland, who spoke to Ireland Today after figures reported yesterday by RTE suggested that new tenants in certain parts of the country can expect to wait up to 66 weeks to move into social housing units.
“When people in Cork have to wait a year to move into an existing property, you know there is a problem,” said Niamh.
Figures show the problem is particularly prevalent in rural counties compared to Dublin, where the average time between one family moving out and another moving into a unit is usually around 13 weeks.
While Niamh did express dismay at this evidence, Simon communities’ chief concern is finding a solution to this escalating situation.
“We believe the situation can be addressed through dialogue and cooperation with local authorities,” explained Niamh.
“It’s important to stress that while we are concerned by the time period of turnover from one family to another, it’s not the only issue.”
We understand that the right procedures have to be followed to make sure the property is safe for habitation, but a proper, updated system would identify areas of the country where upgrading to social housing is required. This would allow time for proper planning and you will see a reduction in these waiting figures. At the moment we don’t have such a system.
Niamh added: “There are 6,000 people living in emergency accommodation in this country. And that figure is rising every day. Knowing that, we can’t accept that time is a luxury.”
For Niamh, it’s a matter of using common sense, pooling resources and working closely with partners in other regions to address the issues at source, but like anything worthwhile, Niamh admits there will be difficulties along the way.
“Many local authorities suffer from insufficient staffing,” explained Niamh. “We need more partnerships between local authorities and developers and we need to conduct research into different regions to establish the areas that are doing well with their social housing and the ones that could use assistance. That’s a lot of work that requires more bodies but that’s an issue in itself at the moment.”
Niamh has confidence in the business model and what it would do for the problems being faced.
An accurate register, with properly collated and regularly updated data could ensure that we are beginning to get on top of this issue, said Niamh.
“It would give assurances that we know where the problems lie, what resources are available but most importantly, we would be assured that people that desperately need housing are not being left behind.”