Process to get proper figure on housing need under way in the county

Mayo County Council has begun a process to try and establish the exact housing need in the county. They have written to everyone who is currently on the housing list in the county to establish if all of those on the list are still in need of social housing, with a return deadline of September 21 this year.

Head of the Housing Section of Mayo County Council, Paul Benson, informed the members of the council's Housing Strategic Policy Committee this week about the Housing Needs Assessment they are currently undertaking. "The first exercise we've undertaken which will be critically important to everything we do in the next few years is to determine what the actual demand is," he said. "We have started ourselves, we made a decision to review the housing list in the county and see exactly what the demand is and what the need of those people is, where that need is and what exactly it is. At the moment there are just over 3,200 on the housing list, we don't believe that is a correct number. Once you got on the housing list you weren't removed unless you came to us and asked to be removed and most people don't do that. They can have moved away again or passed away and they stay on our list unless it comes to our attention. Everyone has been written to, as of last week, and asked to complete an updated form and that's a very important exercise. When we get that information back, we'll know how many people want social housing, where they want to be located and what their special needs are, if there are any. That will inform the build and acquisition programme for the next few years. It's a critically important piece of work and once we get that data and it's accurate, without it, it's very hard to plan."

He continued: "The process we're carrying out is to make sure that the number that comes out on the deadline date of September 21 is reasonably accurate, in relation to what the demand is out there and what the specific need is of each individual applicant, so I would encourage and emphasis how critically important it is that people fill it out and return it to us. It's mostly a tick box form, it's eight pages, but it's mostly yes or no. If we don't start from a solid base, so we can comfortably know what the demand is, we can't design a housing programme. It's critical that we get all the forms back, the position is that if you don't return the form, you'll be taken off the list, but if they are late getting the form back, they won't be put through the whole process of applying again. But we need to have a figure at a point in time to say, that's it, so we can know what our options are after that.

"We'll be informed by the number that come back, but if we only get 500 back then there is a problem, because we know the list is bigger than that. If it reflects what we think will come back, with natural attrition on the list, we'll know when we get the returns back. The offices are there to help and assist people with it, there have been people who have called in already about it and we are taking phone calls. The Citizens Information offices have been advised and sent out a sample of the form and told what the requirements are and what needs to be done, and they are involved in the process and they will get calls, I'll expect. If people have any difficulties they should call, they should not ignore it or get someone on their behalf to make contact."

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