The housing crisis is not confined to Dublin and the east of the Country according to Mayo Sinn Féin general election candidate Rose Conway-Walsh. She said this week: "There are families in Mayo who are living in cramped unsuitable conditions because the maximum rent limits for the housing assistance payment which replaced the rent allowance is capped at €375 monthly for a single person, or €390 for a couple or €500 for a couple with three children. In essence what this means is that tenants who are unable to secure properties for those amounts or less are not legally eligible for housing assistance."
Speaking after the recent RTE documentary on homelessness in Dublin Cllr Conway-Walsh said: “In reality, there are very few parts of this county where rental properties are available for €375 per month so what happens is that the tenant has to pretend he or she is getting the property for less and try to make up the difference themselves. Only then will they be considered for housing assistance towards the rent. This puts tenants in a very vulnerable position as they are in fact being put into a position to act illegally in order to secure a home. The number of people on the housing waiting list in Mayo has doubled to almost 3,000 in the last couple of years. This has happened because many families lost their homes when they lost their jobs and the building of new social housing units were stopped."
She concluded: "There are a number of immediate actions that need to be taken to alleviate the housing crisis in Mayo. Firstly, the maximum rent limits need to be increased to reflect the reality on the ground. Secondly, emergency staff need to be drafted into Mayo County Council to work on the preparation of documentation for new builds and procurement of services to refurbish vacant properties. As I travel around this county I see many empty properties in what once used to be vibrant streets with thriving communities. I cannot see any reason why Mayo County Council could not buy these properties, refurbish them, and let them out to families. This would breathe life into many of these streets and areas."