The high number of people turning down social housing is “extremely annoying”, a local councillor has said.
In 2021 and 2022, some 25,000 offers of social housing were made and a fifth of them were rejected.
Kildare had the highest rejection rate at 38% and Cllr Nick Killian in nearby Meath told Lunchtime Live he found the phenomenon hugely frustrating.
“From my point of view, it’s the worst phone call I can receive from somebody that has made representations [to me],” he said.
“That they actually turn around and say to you, ‘Sorry, Nick. I’m not taking that particular house.’
“When you ask why and you get a reason that just doesn’t stand up, it’s extremely annoying.”
Colour of the door
Cllr Killian said he knew of people who had even turned down a place because they disliked the colour of the door or the design of the estate.
He was also keen to stress there are “genuine reasons” why someone would turn down an offer of social housing.
“It can be a health situation [or] a parental situation,” he said.
“The worst one I got recently was they were offered a house that was being repaired and brought back to final condition in a housing estate [and they said], ‘I do not want to live in a social housing estate.’
“That to me was the penny looking down on the hay.”
Meath County Council has recently changed the way social housing offers are made and the number of rejections has fallen from 233 in 2021 to 48 last year.
“People who are on the housing list can actually go in, see a particular house and make a bid for it or not,” Cllr Killian said.
“They can see the house, there’s photographs of it. Some people will apply, some people don’t.
“Even then, people will turn down a choice.”
Sinn Féin Cllr Daithí Doolan said his experience of people getting offered social housing was hugely different to Cllr Killian’s.
He described his constituents in Ballyfermot as “desperate” to get housing.
“People are delighted to get any sort of offer,” he said.
“When people feel obliged or are forced to turn it down, it’s heart-breaking.”
Cllr Doolan rejected any assertion people turn down offers because of “trivial” issues such as the colour of the door and said it was because of necessity.
“I have people who turn it down because they need access to local services, facilities, families,” he said.
“These are people who - by the very nature, because of the financial criteria - are very low income.
“They can’t afford childcare, they can’t afford private healthcare, so they’re dependent on family support.”
In the final quarter of 2022, there were 12,733 social homes at design and tender stage.
Main image: Hand holding a key. Picture by: Alamy.com