Dillon urges Minister to secure an affordable housing scheme for Mayo

Dep Alan Dillon TD

Dep Alan Dillon TD

Affordability of housing in Mayo is now at a crisis point, Mayo Fine Gael TD Alan Dillon highlighted during ministerial questioning in the Dáil. Deputy Dillon expressed disappointment that Mayo County Council has been excluded from the national affordable housing five-year delivery targets despite the problems that exist. At present no scheme has been approved to provide affordable housing in the county and this is having a negative impact on future economic development in the county. "There is a shortage of affordable homes to rent or purchase in parts of the county, especially in towns such as Westport, Castlebar and Ballina." Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien explained an identified level of affordable housing need arises where, of the projected housing need in the county, more than five per cent of new households would not qualify. "The level of affordability constrained need in Mayo is assessed at below five per cent. I understand there are localised affordability issues, particularly in Westport and also potentially in Ballina. We are happy to consider those issues. Where local authorities have localised affordability measures, as is the case in the two towns in question, they can still apply to the Department for funding to develop affordable housing schemes if they can demonstrate that an affordable scheme is needed to address those localised affordability challenges and they can meet the criteria for the fund. I am confident that can be done. As regards Mayo in particular, in June 2021 a scheme was submitted for 25 homes in Westport under the previous fund, namely, the Serviced Sites Fund. We have told Mayo County Council that it can resubmit that to the new fund and I understand work is ongoing between my Department and the council on that." Minister O’Brien informed Deputy Dillon of KPMG’s ongoing work for Mayo County Council on the future analytics side, to prove the affordability constraint in pressure areas within Mayo, and following the conclusion of KPMG work this month his Department has agreed to meet with Mayo County Council in June. Deputy Dillon said Mayo has the fourth-lowest market house price in the country but that is certainly not reflective of the open market price of new-build homes in areas such as Westport, Castlebar and Ballina. Some of these A-rated new premises are on the market for between €270,000 and €350,000. He said: "I am delighted to see Mayo County Council has been proactive. It reached out to the public in Mayo, seeking information to understand better the demand for affordable housing, including locations of choice and the affordability constraints of potential applicants. The threshold for social housing in Mayo is €25,000. Many people are above that threshold but caught within the squeezed-middle bracket. It is important that we respond to these pressure areas. Mayo has significant issues in respect of vacancy and dereliction. Increasing housing supply in the area would be an important step forward."

 

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