A housing charity says it’s working as fast and safely as it can during Covid to allocate homes in a new-build complex in Cork city where only a quarter of the units are occupied six months after its ‘official opening’.
Focus Housing Association, the property arm of Focus Ireland, outlined its efforts to allocate tenancies in the Lower John St property after an image was posted on social media just before Christmas showing someone bedded down in a sleeping bag outside its front door.
Dereliction campaigner, Frank O’Connor, said the image “sums up how fucked up Ireland is”.
“This person without a home is sleeping outside a block of social homes officially opened six months ago but still unoccupied. Don’t fret there is a lovely plaque inside with important peoples (sic) names on it,” he wrote on Twitter.
This sums up how fucked up Ireland is
This person without a home is sleeping outside a block of social homes officially opened 6 months ago but still unoccupied
Don’t fret there is a lovely plaque inside with important peoples names on it#DerelictIreland #NoRoomAtTheInn pic.twitter.com/Xdea14ywD7
— Frank O’Connor (@frank_oconnor) December 20, 2021
The 17-unit scheme, built on a former derelict site, was one of several social housing schemes which were officially opened by former Lord Mayor, Joe Kavanagh, on June 10 last, which combined, would deliver 64 units.
As of late November, tenancies have been allocated to all six units in a scheme on Shandon Street/John Philpott Curran Street; tenancies had been allocated to all 10 units in a scheme at Ard na Ri, in Banduff, and to 11 units in an 18-unit scheme at An Coilleog in Blarney, with nominations completed for the remaining seven.
But as of this week, just four tenants have moved into the Lower John St complex.
In response to queries from the Irish Examiner, Focus Housing said it was aware of the discussion on social media about the delay in filling the homes six months after their official opening but said the announcement in June “resulted in a misunderstanding in some quarters that the units were ready for tenants at that time”.
The council said “notwithstanding the timing of the launch, properties can only be allocated when they are verified as ready to let” and that while schemes may have been substantially structurally completed in June, there can be significant time to complete internal works and snagging, and finalise inspections to ensure compliance with letting standards and utility connections.
It has been established that four of the units are designated for direct nomination by the council’s accommodation placement service for people exiting emergency accommodation.
The remaining 13 units were advertised on the Choice Based Letting system during the week ending September 21, and following statutory pre-allocation checks, 13 clients were nominated to Focus Ireland on October 19 and the pre-tenancy process started.
Focus Housing said while it only