Friday, 29 December 2023.

The proportion of one-bedroom homes in new Cork city developments is encouraging.

The development of 302 apartments is back on track at Horgan’s Quay near Kent station with the Local Development Authority (LDA) recently confirming a partnership with BAM to deliver this stalled and much needed build.

Over one third (36%) of these new homes will be one-bedroom apartments.

Through the IDA’s Project Tosaigh initiative, the majority of homes at Horgan’s Quay will come under the cost rental scheme. It provides tenants with security of tenure, at rents at least 25% below market rates, which in turn will help to prevent homelessness.

Across the river, at the former Ford distribution site next to Páirc Uí Chaoimh, the ground has been cleared for the planned development by Glenveagh of over 1,000 apartments. Almost one-third (321) of this mixed size development will be one-bed apartments.

Further supply of housing to the market is always positive, and in the case of these two sizeable developments either side of the Lee, the proportion of one-bedroom homes is encouraging given the rate of single adult homelessness in the Southwest and the severe lack of single unit accommodation.

High rate of single adult homelessness and low supply of single unit accommodation.

Our first Home Truths report, Single Homelessness in the Southwest, paints a clear picture of the scale and challenge of single adult homelessness in the region. Single adults account for the significant majority of adults in emergency accommodation while only a tiny minority manage to exit to a tenancy - just over 5% each quarter.

Single adults also represent the majority on social housing waiting lists in the Southwest and nationally.

According to the European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS), one of the largest European household sample surveys, single person households represent the largest and fastest growing household category in the EU.

Single households are growing, yet, as our first Home Truths paper also shows, one bed accommodation accounts for less than 10% of local authority housing, and less than 20% of private rented stock, here in Cork.

Addressing our housing and homelessness crisis is not just about more housing - we need more of the right size of housing. We need more single unit housing in general to keep pace with changing demographics, and we specifically need more single unit social and affordable housing if we are to address the homelessness crisis effectively.

Vacant rental homes offer an efficient boost to housing supply.

While we ultimately need more housing, building takes time. Returning existing homes to the market can increase supply quickly.

Home Truths: Single Adults in the Southwest identified that among the tiny minority lucky enough to exit emergency accommodation to a tenancy, there is a high reliance on the private rental sector.

Following on from this, our Home Truths: Vacant Homes in Cork paper highlighted a significant discrepancy between the high number of vacant rental properties identified in Census 2022 and the tiny number of available rental properties on the property website, around the same time; almost 3,000 compared to about 200.

Greater understanding about that discrepancy between the number of vacant and available rental properties, followed by targeted incentives to return vacant rental homes to the market, could offer a small but efficient increase to rental supply, providing a much-needed exits from homelessness, while social and affordable housing – especially single unit social and affordable housing – comes on stream.

Our Home Truths series aims to offer insights into different aspects and experiences of homelessness in the Southwest, drawing on publicly available data and supported by the personal experiences of Cork Simon service users.