Tipperary County Council’s housing department was criticized by local councilors for being too complicated and bureaucratic, at the recent monthly Nenagh Borough meeting.
Councilors stressed that they are at the front lines, often dealing with stressful situations where people find themselves in very difficult circumstances, and that they need a simpler housing application process for these people in difficult circumstances. .
Via the zoom link, three members of the Housing Department introduced councilors to a choice-based tenancy system in the housing application process. They described a system that is essentially a way to analyze the different types of applicants who are looking for housing. However, it involved a number of tables, difficult terminology, and generally seemed a bit inscrutable to a normal person’s understanding.
One of the housing officers was interrupted by Cllr Seamus Morris as she went through the process. “I’m sorry to interrupt you,” the councilor said, “and maybe I’m being stupid, but I can’t explain this process to my constituents.” If someone tells me that I can’t have a house, I need a house, and he asks for my help, I won’t be able to explain to him. It’s too complicated.”
Cllr Joe Hannigan agreed. “I think we all got lost from the start of your explanation,” he told the housing officer. “It’s hard to follow.”
The housing officer said that the analysis system uses five different scenarios, that is, five different types of housing applicants. “It’s hard to grasp,” she admitted. “When I typed it, I myself was a bit confused for a while.”
Counselors asked him to start over and explain it in simple terms. The housing officer started doing this but was soon interrupted again by councillors. The housing officer said it would be better to have the meeting in person rather than zoom.
“That would be a better idea,” said Cllr Morris.
One of the housing managers said the choice-based rental system worked reasonably well. “We provide as much assistance as possible to applicants going through the process,” she said. “37% of housing seekers have not yet entered the system. We wrote to each of them three times in an attempt to get them to engage with the system. Choice-based leasing works well for those who commit to it. »
Cllr John Carroll stressed that they had to think of the vulnerable. “There are homeless people, living on the streets, sleeping in hay sheds and garden sheds, who cannot be contacted; they distanced themselves from mainstream society. We have to think of them. We cannot leave them behind. I recently met two homeless people who left their family home. Their situation is very difficult.
Cllr Phyll Clairon accepted. “When it comes to vulnerable people like this, it is vitally important that they are allocated accommodation in their own area, where their families are close by. These are often not lost causes. It’s often amazing how they can change their lives.
Cllr Ger Darcy said the system needs to be more humanitarian. “We need to prioritize vulnerable candidates. We used to do that in the Council, but unfortunately no longer. We called them priority lists.
“Some of these housing seekers are in very bad shape. The importance for them of being housed in their region of origin, in their own community, close to their family and friends, cannot be overemphasized.
“We should simplify the system as much as possible, remove as much bureaucracy as possible; so that we can take care of those who need it most first.
“You know, it’s terrible to see all these vacant houses around the square during a housing crisis. Some of them are in pretty good shape, and sometimes it seems to take forever to get them back into the system.
Cllr Michael O’Meara agreed. “The choice-based rental system seems like a complex matrix,” he noted. He appealed to the housing section and the powers that be to take into account the advisers’ suggestions. “After all, we are at the coal face. We have the knowledge. However, sometimes I feel like our role is being eroded by the system. In recent years, it seems that our influence has eroded more and more. But we must be listened to because we can help find realistic and pragmatic solutions to problems. We need to play a bigger role in tackling the housing crisis. I have the impression that the government in Dublin, the civil service, does not value advisers enough and has been working actively for several years to diminish our role.
“One thing that irritates is that it can take months and years to renovate our houses. We have to speed things up. »
Cllr Bugler said the choice-based rental system is “too busy, too complicated. It needs to be refined, simplified.”
A housing official pointed out that the priority list was abolished by the central government in 2011. She said housing seekers got houses faster when the priority list existed.
She said there were 3,520 applicants on the county’s public housing slate. She added that none of the social houses are used to house Ukrainian refugees. “Housing is found for refugees through a totally different process.”
The meeting agreed to hold a face-to-face meeting between Councilors and the Housing Section in the near future.