The number of households on the social housing waiting list in Donegal has trebled since 2017.
As of September 2022, 2,740 households were on Donegal County Council’s waiting list.
These included 999 on the social housing support list and 1,741 receiving Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and on the transfer list.
The figures were outlined in a draft Homeless Action Plan for the North West Region, which was shared with Donegal County Council members today.
The plan noted a huge rise in the number of families homeless in Donegal and Sligo.
In July 2022, there were almost 30 adults in emergency accommodation in Donegal.
The action plan for Sligo, Donegal and Leitrim has four key strategies: to prevent homelessness, to protect people experiencing homelessness, to identify pathways to long-term housing solutions and to ensure proper governance, financial oversight and funding to deliver homeless services.
The report noted a sharp increase in the number of housing applicants who state they are living with family/friends and couch surfing.
Also in Donegal last year, there were 15 adults and 23 children classed as homeless who were engaging with Donegal Domestic Violence Services CLG. A further 38 adults and 40 children were couch surfing or staying with friends/family due to domestic violence up to August 2022.
Sinn Féin Cllr Gerry McMonagle welcomed the report and called for adequate resources to address the issues at hand.
“It’s like any other report, unless it’s properly resourced then it’s going to sit on the shelf and gather dust,” Cllr McMonagle said.
He called on the council to make a commitment to designate extra staff to support people on the waiting list and the increasing number of people who are going to face eviction in the coming months.
Cllr McMonagle added that the lack of emergency accommodation faced by the council is not adequate.
“Obviously what we need is more public housing and private housing. We also need to be looking at and resourcing purpose-built emergency accommodation units.”
Independent Cllr Niamh Kennedy proposed that a large hostel-type building or B&B is established by the council in each municipal district in Donegal to address the lack of emergency housing across the county.
Fine Gael Cllr Martin Harley said that the release of money from banks is inhibiting builds. He told the council that there are ‘thousands’ of projects approved by planning but are sitting without funding.
“We should be asking the government to get the banks to give money to the builders to build these houses. We need to start building houses at a significant scale again – back to pre-2009 levels,” Cllr Harley said.
Council housing official Eamonn Brown informed members that the council is committed to seeking and applying resources to the action plan, and that the local authority is at the final stages of recruiting a vacant homes officer.