THERE are currently 1,405 approved applicants on Ennis Town Council’s housing waiting list, with the vast majority of applicants seeking local authority housing for financial reasons.
The local authority currently has a housing stock of 603. Of those approved applicants on the waiting list, 71% are seeking local authority housing for financial reasons while a further 21% are on the list through medical or compassionate grounds.
The rest of the list is made up of the disabled, elderly, those leaving care, homeless, those in overcrowded accommodation, those sharing, Travellers and those whose homes are unfit for their needs. Each of these individual categories is less than 1% of the housing list.
These figures were outlined at a recent meeting of Ennis Town Council, where Councillor Paul O’Shea urged that a public information seminar be organised on the social housing allocation policy in Ennis.
Speaking at the meeting, he urged that the seminar detail what the qualifying criteria is for new and existing people who are in need of housing. He also called for the local authority’s executive to publicise the current number on the waiting list and rules on transfers for existing tenants, in addition to the percentage of those in need of housing such as families, single parents, those with disabilities, the elderly and those who have lost their home due to the economic crisis.
Leonard Cleary, town clerk, said the council can arrange a seminar if there is a need. However, many people prefer to deal with the housing office on an individual basis. At the meeting, he outlined the statistics for those on the housing list.
Mr Cleary stated that the Social Housing Allocation Scheme for Ennis was adopted by the elected members of Ennis Town Council in June 2011. This is in line with national guidelines and Government policy.
He went on, “This Social Housing Allocation Policy is a matter of public record and can be accessed readily by customers through the council’s housing department and Ennis Town Council’s website.
“Many of the council’s housing customers prefer to make an individual application rather than seek to address their needs through a public collective gathering on policy. Ennis Town Council can arrange an information seminar for Ennis housing customers, if a need is identified. This is subject to staffing resources being available for a seminar at a time when there has been more than a 20% reduction in staffing levels.”
He went on to state there is a wide range of housing provision options available to those on the housing waiting list.
“The Social Housing Allocation Scheme has regard to these options. These housing needs are responded to appropriately in different ways by different suppliers/providers including local authority, voluntary housing bodies and the private housing market. It is Government policy to encourage this mix of provision. Each housing customer is unique and their application is considered in the context of the social housing allocation policy. This is a unique, individual and confidential application process,” he said.
He outlined that the council does not have access to data in relation to those in need of housing on the basis that they have lost their home due to the economic crisis.
Figures issued by the local authority also show there are 95 applicants on the transfer list. “Tenants of the council may apply for consideration for a transfer to other dwellings under the following circumstances, overcrowding, older persons and other households requiring smaller accommodation, medical/compassionate reasons, exceptional circumstances where the application receives relevant support to the satisfaction of the council, to facilitate incremental purchase and where the authority has consented to such a purchase.”
Tenants seeking a transfer must fulfil a number of requirements. These include that they hold the tenancy in their present dwelling for a period of at least two years. They must also have a clear rent account, while allowances will be made where an agreement is in place and being adhered to by the tenant to address any such arrears over an agreed period of time. Those looking for a transfer must have kept their dwelling in satisfactory condition, subject to council inspections, have complied with the conditions of their tenancy agreement and have no record of anti-social behaviour.
Mr Cleary concluded, “Over the last number of years, Ennis Town Council has introduced a comprehensive estate management programme. This has proven very effective in managing the housing stock in a proactive way and addressing housing customer needs. Ennis Town Council has invested significant financial and staff resources in council housing estates including new sporting, amenity, community and playground facilities.”