‘Shocking’ student accommodation crisis grips Athlone

Jumping housing prices and inadequate accommodation make the issue of living far worse than imagined for students attending the Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT ) this year.

“People may not think it’s an issue compared to the likes of Dublin but for many students it’s a serious worry. We are already at full capacity in our student accommodations and that is even before any of the leaving certificate students have received their results,” explained Áine Daly, the vice-president for student welfare and accommodation for the AIT.

In her current role, Áine registers landlords and mediates between student and home owner if any issues arise and has seen first hand the emotional and financial stress that accommodation issues can cause students.

“I’ve had so many students call me completely distressed about accommodation. It’s a competitive market. Students are competing with professionals who stay in Athlone after their degree and unfortunately, they cannot compete with that.”

As rent prices continue to soar, some students are even considering not accepting offers because of the accommodation shortage.

“Financially speaking, the houses are priced at 70 euro per week which is a reasonable rent, but these units fill incredibly quickly. Students are left with apartments which range from 2,000 to over 2,500 euros each semester. Many students cannot afford this,” Ms. Daly emphasised.

Returning students retain existing accommodation from the previous May and this poses a threat to those students with disabilities who may need ground floor accommodation or certain commodities in their housing.

“The lack of accommodation and support for students with disabilities is shocking, even something as basic as wheelchair access,” Ms. Daly noted.

Focussing on the importance of utilising the accommodation we already have in the town adequately rather than overcrowding Athlone further with housing is key she believes.

“Athlone is growing, so we need to use the houses we have. There are so many unused houses and apartments and I would encourage those who have a spare room to let to students to do so,” Ms. Daly acknowledged.

Although the Government are planning the construction of public housing in Dublin and allocating a taxing allowance for those home owners who rent out their rooms, Ms. Daly believes they need to further publicise this detail.

She also insisted that local authority members should support more adequate housing that is up to a proper living standard.

“Finding accommodation shouldn’t be so stressful. I’ve heard so many stories of students who live in appalling conditions with no heat, no working shower - it’s unfair and landlords do this because students need housing and they can get away with it.

“College is hard enough without having the difficulty of finding somewhere to live,” Ms. Daly concluded.

Ms. Daly is asking if anyone who has a spare room or house and would be interested in renting it out to contact her by phone 090 6468067 or by email [email protected].

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