411 on Housing Needs list in Inishowen

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Inishowen has the highest number of people awaiting council houses in the county, although the number has fallen “significantly” from last year.

Donegal County Council’s Housing Needs Assessment 2016 determined there were 411 people in Inishowen, ahead of Letterkenny with 358 and Stranorlar with 203. There are 162 people included on the list in the Donegal Municipal District and 141 in Glenties, bringing the county total to 1275.

At Tuesday’s Inishowen Municipal District meeting, Aideen Doherty, Area Manager of Housing and Corporate Services, said there had been a substantial reduction in the figures since last year, when the countywide total was 1700. She added that the Inishowen figure had also reduced.

Despite the numbers, concerns were expressed at what was deemed a high rate of refusal when homes are offered. This is currently 30%.

This does not include ‘reasonable refusals,’ which are so-deemed by the council if there has been a fundamental change in an application or circumstances.

Ms Doherty said that a tenant who unreasonably refuses two homes offered to them is taken off the housing list for two years. She added that an example of an unreasonable refusal is one where the person doesn’t want to live in a house with a back boiler.

Commenting on this, Councillor Bernard McGuinness said: “There is something radically wrong here. Why, when people are offered houses, do they not want them?”

Ms Doherty responded that sometimes people are living in what they deem “nicer” accommodation and don’t want to move.

Councillor Martin McDermott said others have the “cushion” of Housing Assistance Payment tenancies (HAP) although if they are taken off the housing list they will have to build their points back up. In September, there were 253 HAP tenancies in Inishowen, an almost 200 increase from January, when there were 62.

Ms Doherty also confirmed that Donegal County Council is now advertising homes which have a high rate of refusal on their website under ‘choice-based letting.’ She said this allows anyone, no matter where they are on the housing list, to see homes which are available but have been continuously refused.