Independent Councillor Kevin “Boxer” Moran has suggested that the current housing crisis in Athlone could be alleviated by AIT building student accommodation on its own land.
The councillor made his comments at last week’s budget meeting of Westmeath County Council. He suggested that as in most college towns a large proportion of housing each year is taken up by students, adding to the current housing shortage. He said: “AIT has huge land banks on its own campus. If they were to build accommodation there it would free up more three bedroom houses, family homes. And students would only love to be in houses on campus.”
Councillor Moran, not for the first time, suggested the building of such accommodation on AIT land could be developed through a private public partnership. The issue of housing shortages continues to rear its head at each and every council meeting. Councillor Aengus O’Rourke once again raised the issue of people being forced to “couch surf” at the homes of friends and family, and criticised the Department of Social Welfare for threatening to re-evaluate the home owners payments due to them housing an extra resident in their home.
Responding to the councillors concerns, Councillor Paul Daly suggested that the council examine the possibility of purchasing properties that currently sit in “dormant ownership” by way of compulsory purchase orders. He said such a step would help to “rejuvenate the streets” and give certain areas a much-needed “facelift”. He urged councillors to start “thinking outside of the box” in terms of coming up with solutions to ease the housing situation.