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An Ennis couple on the social housing waiting list in Clare claim they are being discriminated for not having any children.

Chloe Conerney (24) and John Delaney (24) are among over 1,600 households on the social housing waiting list that have identified Ennis as their preference for a home. The couple who have been on the list for five years have said they have yet to be offered a house by the local authority and feel discriminated against because they have no children.

Weekly checks of the Choice Based Letting website are completed by the couple, they have expressed interest in “several properties” but have not had their desired outcome.

Presently, 3,000 households in Clare qualify for social housing support. Of these, 1,700 have been accommodated and are transfer applicants leaving 1,300 households in need of accommodation.

A recent property advertised for the Ennis area on the Choice Based Letting platform attracted more than 150 bids. “This means that 150 households expressed an interest in accepting the allocation of this property. This property was offered to one of these 150 bidders leaving all the other bidders disappointed,” a spokesperson for Clare County Council outlined.

Engagement with the County Council was criticised by Chloe. “I don’t feel they are making an effort with us, I feel we are being pushed to one side because we have no kids and it’s not fair. There are people out there who have been put in front of us that haven’t been on the list as long as us. They are not being fair at all with us,” she stated.

Properties are allocated in line with the 2020 Allocation Scheme, the size of the property is based on the size of property the household qualify for. Chloe and John currently qualify for a two-bedroom property.

Not long after moving to Clare from Galway five years ago, Chloe was placed on the housing list. This followed a threat of legal action. However, in the intervening timeframe, the pair have been frustrated and told The Clare Echo they have not been offered a house in five years while friends and family have been housed, “we feel we’re being pushed to one side and not prioritised at all”.

As they don’t drive, John and Chloe wish to be housed in Ennis. They are currently staying in the same house as John’s parents, his sister and her children, in total there are eight people living in a three-bedroom house in Waterpark Heights.

This living arrangement is causing frustration and is a worry for Chloe and John. In September, Chloe is to begin receiving IVF treatment as they try to start a family together. “It will be a long journey, we need to be settled, relaxed and under no pressure when I’m going through it. This treatment is a private clinic and we have to pay out of our own pocket which is more stress on top of us, it is not nice,” she explained.

A past pupil of Ennis National School and Ennis Community College, John believed the chances of the IVF treatment being a success would be hindered by the current stress Chloe is under. “We want to have our own home before this. She has to go through all of this in an overcrowded house, it is not nice, we would like to have our own privacy”. He added, “It would be nice to be successful with the IVF and be in our own home. If the IVF works out we’re bringing another baby into an overcrowded house”.

John confirmed that they are now considering legal options. “The only thing we can do now is to try be heard through the newspaper, if we’re not heard in the next few weeks our only choice will be to bring them to Court. I know people who are on the list two or three years that got houses, we’ve been on it five years, it is not much to ask for your own home, it is not nice being in an overcrowded house going through all of this”.

The basis of their case is “discrimination” according to Chloe. “We were onto the Homeless Action Team several times when we first got together, they wanted me to go into a women’s hostel and separate us because we have no kids. She said the only way out of it was to put our social welfare payments together so that we’re a couple, we did that and they still refused us”.

Supply and demand remains the primary issue when it comes to housing, a Council spokesperson highlighted. “We appreciate many households are frustrated by the lack of supply and the consequential wait for social housing, however the Council can only allocate available properties. Allocations are on the basis of housing need and in line with the priorities as set out in Clare County Council’s Social Housing Allocation Scheme”.

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