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The housing crisis may be much worse than we thought

Figures released by Fianna Fáil show the social housing waiting list stands at 130,000 and not the 89,000 the government claims.

25/4/2015 Fianna fail Ard Fheis Barry Cowen Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

THE WAITING LIST for social housing is much longer than the government has previously disclosed, according to new figures released by Fianna Fáil today.

Figures from each local authority in the country show that there are just over 130,000 households who have applied for and are on the social housing waiting list and not the 89,000 the government has claimed.

Fianna Fáil says this number is from 2013 and there has been a surge of 45% nationally since then.

However, the Department of Environment has disputed the Fianna Fáil figures claiming its analysis is more comprehensive, rigorous and accounts for potential duplication on some housing lists.

The new figure of 130,008 was complied from data Fianna Fáil collated from 28 of the 31 local authorities that responded to Freedom of Information requests.

“The scale of this problem is far greater than the government would have you believe,” Fianna Fáil’s environment spokesperson Barry Cowen said today, describing the situation as “a scandal”.

It is my contention that they have been economical with the truth from their perspective and the cat is out of the bag. The real figure is 130,000 applications on the social housing waiting list.

In Roscommon the housing waiting list has increased 157% from 252 to 648 while in the Taoiseach’s constituency of Mayo there has been a 100% surge from 1,479 to 2,965.

Here’s a full breakdown of the figures provided by each local authority to Fianna Fáil:

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 15.10.10

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 15.10.23

*Denotes that this local authority did not respond to Fianna Fáil and figure is drawn from national average of 44.99%

In Dublin city there has been a 30% increase from 16,171 to 21,015. While in both Galway city and county there has been an increase of over 80%.

Cowen said that in many cases the figures include joint applicants and families. The Laois Offaly TD estimated that the actual real number of people in need of social housing could stand at 300,000.

He said in some cases families have been waiting up to seven years on a social housing waiting list.

The government’s own analysis is that of those in need of social housing, 44 per cent are single person households and 30 per cent are single adults with a child or children.

Fianna Fáil’s Robert Troy said he had never come across a problem as big as this in his 11 years as a public representative.

I can honestly say that I have never witnessed anything like the number of representations that I am getting on a daily and weekly basis in relation to the area of social housing.

In its social housing strategy published last November, the government committed to responding robustly with a “roadmap that will accommodate 90,000 households, the entire Housing Waiting List, by 2020″.

This includes the provision of 35,000 new social housing units and providing housing support through the private rental sector for 75,000 households.

‘Apples as oranges’

fullsizerender-32 Environment Minister Alan Kelly Source: Hugh O'Connell

In response to queries, a spokesperson for Environment Minister Alan Kelly said that Fianna Fáil was “counting apples as oranges” and claimed that the 2013 figure of 89,000 is a result of a “comprehensive analysis” that removes duplicates.

This is a detailed analysis which removes duplicates (people on multiple housing lists) Another assessment will be carried out next year and every year after that, something Fianna Fail never did.
Peoples circumstances regularly change which is why the analysis needs to be comprehensive and carried out on a yearly basis.

The 2013 summary of social housing needs involved local authorities contacting households to confirm their continued requirement and qualification for social housing support.

The spokesperson took issue with what it says was a “snapshot of housing need in any given county at a point in 2015″.

While these figures  are of course subject to on-going fluctuation due to households being allocated housing and new households applying for housing support,  to say that the 2013 figures differ from what is currently on file in a local authority is erroneous because it does not compare like with like.
To take a snapshot of housing need in any given county, at a point in time in 2015, and compare it to the 2013 data, which was compiled as a result of rigorous analysis will have methodological weaknesses which could distort the overall picture of need. The 2013 figures do not include duplicate entries and those already in local authority, voluntary and co-operative housing or the Rental Accommodation Scheme, and as such are the most accurate that are available.

The Department said it intends to increase the regularity of social housing assessments and conduct them annually from 2016 onwards.

Read: Sinn Féin accused of “cowardice” over the building of social houses

Read: Student accommodation is an absolute disaster in this country – when will government respond?

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