Five year council housing list suspension ‘draconian & unnecessary’ – Ó Broin
Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has described the proposed five year suspension from the council housing list for a second refusal as ‘draconian and unnecessary’. The Dublin Mid-West TD has urged the Minister to withdraw the proposal.
Deputy Ó Broin said:
“It has been reported in this morning’s newspapers that Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy is proposing a five year suspension from the Council housing list for applicants who refuse two offers of accommodation. It is understood that this is one of a number of measures being proposed in response to the homeless crisis.
“This move is draconian and unnecessary. I am urging the Minister to withdraw the proposal. Many Councils apply highly restrictive allocation criteria. This means that some offers may not meet the needs of the applicant, despite being deemed ‘reasonable’ by the Council.
“The most common reasons for refusal are distance from schools, public transport, and extended family networks who provide important support such as free childcare. Other issues which can lead to refusals is high levels of anti-social behaviour and crime in some estates or the remoteness of a property in rural areas.
“A much better approach to the issue of efficient allocations is to introduce Choice Based Letting across all Councils. This is an online allocation system in which applicants bid for properties. It provides the applicant with an element of control and choice while eliminating time wasted during the more traditional allocations process.
“Choice Based Letting has been in operation for many years in Councils such as South Dublin and should be the primary source of allocations across the state.
“I am also concerned at the prominence given to this story today. Refusals are not a major issue and are easily resolved within the existing policy framework. Yet, it appears that the Minister’s office has briefed this issue into a prominence that it does not deserve. Is the Minister seeking to distract from his own failings by shifting blame for the homeless crisis onto vulnerable families?
“I would urge him to publish whatever evidence he has to support the imposition of such a draconian sanction and to allow a full debate of the issue in the Oireachtas Housing Committee before any decision is taken at cabinet.”