Digital divide could see people losing their place on the housing list – Cllr Mark Ward
Sinn Féin Councillor Mark Ward has voiced concerns at the means by which South Dublin County Councils plans to roll out the Housing Needs Assessment saying “I feel that the Councils instructions that will see people on the housing waiting lists having to fill a form out online, could potentially mean that constituents who have not got the necessary skills will see their applications terminated for social housing supports”.
Cllr Ward said:
“South Dublin County Council is commencing a Housing Needs Assessment in accordance with Sections 3 and 21 of the Housing Act, 2009.The Council will write to each applicant on its Social Housing List prior to 21st September 2015 using the current address provided by the applicant. The danger is that if someone has subsequently moved address, they may not get this letter. I would advise anyone who has moved addresses to notify the Council as they could have their application for social housing terminated.
“Each applicant will be asked to complete an online form and provide documentary evidence of any changes in their circumstances and return this information to South Dublin County Council.
“There are a number of things concerning me about this process. Notably, those who may not have the necessary digital skills to fill out these online forms could be most at risk of losing their place on the housing list. There are groups of people within the County that do not or are unable to access the internet. The digital divide includes older people and also is impacted by people’s economic status.
“According to a report by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), only 60% of single adults who live alone use the internet and one third of these single adults have never used the internet.
“Only 63% of households who have no employed resident use the internet.
“I would like to see what the Councils plan is to incorporate these people on the other side of the digital divide. According to the memo the Councillors received today, anyone who fails to return the housing needs assessment within the specified time, will see their application for social housing support terminated.
“I agree that there is a need for an up to date live register to assess our housing needs. However, I would like to see the Council being flexible and to cater for different groups in our county. I hope that this does not turn into a cull of the housing list and that people are giving sufficient time to return their forms and that extra supports are giving to those that can’t.
“Finally, I would advise everyone who are on the waiting list, whether they have changed address or not, to contact the Council and clarify that their information in correct prior to the roll out of this process.”