General Election Green Party candidate in the Longford/Westmeath constituency, Cllr. Louise Heavin, has signalled her intention to introduce cost rental housing to solve the lack of affordable options for those in need of a home.
"Cost rental is a way of providing affordable rental housing. Rental income for the property equals the cost of providing the accommodation which includes capital, maintenance and management costs. Over time the cost of the initial capital investment will reduce and the surplus money from rents can then be reinvested to further support affordable accommodation. This is a sustainable way of providing a constant stream of such housing," Cllr. Heavin stated.
The first cost rental scheme in the country was launched in Stepaside in September of last year.
“I think it is time that we started looking at strategies like this outside of our cities. Athlone is now a rent pressure zone. My number one query at the moment is from people facing homelessness as they have to move from their rented accommodation and are struggling to find an affordable alternative.
"Athlone IT is set to expand into a university and our town is set to grow considerably under our national plans. The housing and homelessness situation is set to get an awful lot worse in the Midlands region if we don’t act now.
"We have been relying on the private sector and NGOs to provide the majority of housing in this country for some time now. It is time for our Government to start looking at providing council housing not just for people on the housing list but also affordable rental properties - this should be a basic right," Cllr. Heavin continued.
Cllr. Heavin broached the issue during last week’s council meetin, suggesting that Athlone Moate Municipal District carry out a feasibility study to provide cost rental housing on council owned lands in appropriate locations adjacent to town centres.
“It was great to get support for my motion from all parties within the Council Chamber. The crisis we are facing in housing needs all sides to come together and strive for solutions. What we need now is national action to progress cost rental schemes and stop the situation getting any worse in the Midlands region," Cllr. Heavin concluded.