There are more than 500 applications on file in the West Mayo District for social housing, it was revealed this week. The March meeting of the local authority was told there were 503 applications on file in the region by director of services for the district, Martin Keating. He further broke down the figures outlining that in the Westport town area there were 198 applications, in the Westport rural area there were 97, in Belmullet there were 52, in the Ballycroy and Mulranny area there were 20 applications, and in the Achill area there were 33 applications.
Sinn Fein councillor Rose Conway Walsh told the meeting: “The major problem, and it is getting worse, is the issue of the cap on the rent allowance for the housing. People are trying to prevent themselves from becoming homeless, people are trying to make up the shortfall on the rent allowance, and what they have to pay for rent is too great. It is really pushing families into poverty because they cannot meet the gap there, and I do think this needs to be seriously looked at as it is at the moment. I know the Minister indicated there would be some flexibility around it but there hasn’t been any in individual cases, and that needs to be examined or we’re going to end up with a lot more people who are homeless here, and it is the Government’s responsibility to ensure that people have adequate housing in the area.”
Independent councillor Christy Hyland questioned of the 503 applications on the list, how many of them were from people who had been evicted from their homes by financial institutions. He said: “Because people’s first stop after it is the council, you are put out and it is back on the tax payer to pay for it.” Mr Keating responded that he did not have that number to hand, but he could look into it.