New social housing plan is grossly unfair, says Cllr Keaveney

A Galway county councillor has hit out at Government plans to introduce a Social Housing Leasing Iniative which has been described as “grossly unfair”.

Cllr Colm Keaveney said that the initiative will see Galway County Council having to utilise unsold NAMA housing to facilitate people on the housing waiting list. However, he believes that it will be a “win-win for the developers and of questionable value to prospective tenatns and the Galway County council in the medium to long-term”.

He explained that council tenants will not have the security of tenure that is currently offered as this housing stock is just on loan until property prices recover and then the housing will be returned to its owners to sell for a profit.

“Currently council tenants are encouraged to buy their homes with discounts that take into account the rent paid over the years. This option would not be available under this scheme. I am also concerned that availablity of accommodation will be dictated by where these properties have been built rather than where there is a housing need.

“Healthy communities rely on a percentage of tenants within a locality taking a long-term view, putting down roots, and to do this there must be the opportunity to eventually own their own home. This scheme will see these people dismissed to the bottom of the housing list as there will be no incentives for tenants to buy out these properties,” said Cllr Keaveney who added that Minister for Housing, Michael Finneran, has stated that prospective tenants will be penalised if they turn down an offer of accommodation under this scheme.

Cllr Keaveney also believes that there will financial implications for Galway County Council as houses left vacant for more than three months will incur a penalty which will have to be met by the local authority.

“This will lead to housing decisions being made by councils, not on the needs but within the parameters of this dubious scheme,” Cllr Keaveney concluded.

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