Almost one-third of families refusing social housing were homeless

Common refusal reasons are neighbourhood drug problems or distance from family home

If a homeless family refuse two offers, they lose their “homeless priority”status and will not be offered housing by the local authority for a year. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA

If a homeless family refuse two offers, they lose their “homeless priority”status and will not be offered housing by the local authority for a year. Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA

 

Nearly one-third of families who turned down local authority social housing offers in Dublin last year were homeless.

Dublin City Council had 402 offers of social housing refused by people on their waiting list last year and 116 refusals came from individuals or families listed as homeless.

Eight of those homeless families refused a second offer of a different council home.

If a homeless family refuse two offers they lose their “homeless priority”status, and will not be offered housing by the local authority for a year. They will also have 12 months taken off the noted amount of time they have spent on the waiting list.

Brendan Kenny, head of Dublin City Council’s housing unit, said the “vast majority” of households who turned down an offer accepted their second one. He added that people refusing an initial offer did not cause “inordinate” delays, and this was not considered a particular problem by the local authority.

Local authority

The figures are for local authority-owned homes, and do not include offers to place tenants on the housing assistant payments (Hap) scheme in private rental accommodation.

South Dublin County Council had 87 housing offers refused, and 41 of those were from homeless applicants.

Last year, 68 local authority housing offers were refused in Fingal County Council, and half were from applicants recorded as homeless. In Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, just two of the 110 applicants who turned down housing offers were homeless.

The most common reason a household turns down a council property is the neighbourhood has problems with drugs or anti-social behaviour, Mike Allen, head of advocacy for homeless charity Focus Ireland said.

The second most common reason behind refusals is the home may be too far away from the applicant’s family, Mr Allen said. “For low-income parents, access to family supports for childcare is absolutely crucial if they are to undertake training, or be able to return to work.”

Focus Ireland has argued the penalties for refusing two offers means households on waiting lists feel forced to take their second offer, regardless of how suitable the location is.

Some local authorities have started to bring in a new “choice-based letting” system, where people on the waiting list express an interest in advertised vacancies and council staff select tenants from the pool.

The number of homeless adults and children reached a record high of 9,104 last month, according to figures from the Department of Housing.