New figures have revealed that some Donegal households have been on the council's housing list for up to ten and a half years.
Figures released by the council show that the longest wait by applicants in the council’s five municipal districts is 7.5 years in Stranorlar, eight years in Donegal, nine years in Letterkenny, 10 years in Inishowen and 10.5 years in Glenties.
Exceptional and unique circumstances
The council says those cases involve applicants that have “exceptional and unique circumstances”.
The figures, which were released following a question by Stranorlar Municipal District councillor Gerry Crawford, reveal that 61% of applicants are waiting up to two years, 24% are waiting between two and four years and 15% are waiting over four years.
Housing Payment Scheme
There are 926 households on the social housing waiting list with another 1,597 on the transfer list. The transfer list includes tenants housed under the Housing Assistance Payment scheme HAP where tenants must find their own accommodation in the private rented market and the council pays the rent to the private landlord.
Cllr Crawford said he was surprised at the figures for waiting times. “These figures are unacceptable,” he said.
“Each figure represents an applicant or in many cases a family. The figure 926 equates to far more people. How unique must the circumstances be? Where does this need diminish that people are on the list over ten years?
“The figures show that 61% are less than two years on the list but what are their chances of becoming some of the higher statistics in the years to come?
Different reasons can impact waiting times
“There is housing provision going on in the county by the council which will go some way to meet the need, but will not go all the way to meet the need.
“Special effort must be taken to deal with people who are waiting for unacceptable periods of time.
“There must come a time when we say these people must be housed,” Cllr Crawford added. “These are people sitting waiting and they could not be blamed for thinking they have no hope.”
The council said in a written reply to Cllr Crawford's question there are a variety of reasons that influence the length of waiting times for applicants.
“There is a range of different reasons that can impact on waiting times until an offer is made, and these are specific to the applicant’s own circumstances, the type of dwelling required and their area of preference.
“The current capital investment programme which will see a significant increase in the provision of additional accommodation through construction, turnkey acquisition and single house acquisition coupled with supply frozen in the voluntary housing sector will reduce waiting times.”