The number of single people in the East Cork region seeking one-bed local authority housing has outstripped those seeking larger homes.
It is believed to be the first time this has happened in any of the county’s eight municipal authorities.
The news came as somewhat of a shock to councillors when they received an update of housing waiting lists at a recent meeting of the East Cork Municipal District Council, which was held in Youghal.
Other municipal authorities have seen a growing increase in the number of single people seeking their help, but the East Cork region is understood to be the first to report that they are now the biggest sector of society seeking help.
The East Cork housing needs report showed that 903 people were looking for single bed accommodation from the local authority.
This compared to 896 who requested two-bed units, 744 looking for three-bed units, 129 for four beds and just one looking for a five-bed home.
Of those who had applied for the one-bed homes, five of them signalled that they would have to be disability-friendly.
In total 18 expressed this preference for two-bed units, 10 for three bed and one for four-bed homes.
Cllr Mary Linehan-Foley said it is now obvious that there is a major need to address the growing number of people who were seeking to acquire one-bed housing: “We have a major crisis with single people looking for housing.”
However, council officials have pointed out that there is probably a need to put them into two-bed units because they have a right to have visitors/relatives stay over and they may need carers to do this when they get older.
Cllr Noel Collins, who is known for his voluntary social work in the region, said it is a critical situation which isn’t being addressed.
While there are changes in Irish society in recent years with separation and divorce becoming more common, Cllr Collins claimed the homelessness issue was becoming more pronounced, especially among single, older men who for one reason or another can’t afford spiralling rents.
He said he is inundated with calls from such people and regularly helps get them a warm place to sleep with the Simon community in Cork City.
Cllr Collins said there is no homeless shelter in the East Cork region and one is urgently needed there: “People are suffering while empty buildings remain idle.
“I’m sick of going out every night trying to find shelter for people. There needs to be a shelter in East Cork.”