*Photograph: Joe Buckley

NAMING the affordable housing scheme as such is misleading county councillors in Shannon have argued given the stringent eligibility criteria surrounding it.

Under the affordable purchase scheme, Clare County Council make new, local homes available for purchase by first time buyers and fresh start applicants at reduced prices, whose combined mortgage and deposit will not cover the market price of the newly built home.

In return, Clare County Council takes a percentage equity stake in the affordable home, equal to the discount of the purchase price from the full market value of the home.

To qualify for affordable housing in Rahairc Doire in Shannon applicants must be classified as a first-time buyer and do not own or have legal interest in a dwelling, have the right to reside indefinitely in Ireland, intending purchasers from a member state of the EU/European Economic Area can apply for an affordable home, provided they are living and working in Ireland, the affordable home must be the household’s normal place of residence and where intending purchasers are not an Irish/EU/EEA citizen, they must have indefinite leave to remain in the State.

Officials in the County Council confirmed to The Clare Echo at the beginning of January that they had been successful in application to the Department of Housing for an affordable housing project in Shannon, this is to include ten affordable homes.

Despite this approval, Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien (FF) during a recent visit to the county called on Clare County Council to up the ante in their submissions of affordable housing schemes for Clare.

Speaking at a meeting of the Shannon Municipal District, Director of Services, Alan Farrell welcomed the approval of the ten affordable units. “This is due to the hard work of the social development strategic policy committee and the char of that SPC is a member of this electoral area, it is also due to the hard work of elected members and the executive of Clare County Council”.

He noted that the Council in 2023 looked for expressions of interest from potential developers for an affordable housing scheme. He said the houses would be located in the Oak View area of Shannon.

Chair of the Social Development SPC, Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) commented, “I’d question whay is affordable housing”. He outlined, “the people earning between €30,000 to €49,000 there’s nothing there for them. The ten houses in Shannon are welcome, when we put it out for people to apply it will give us an indication if we can sell on ten”. Flynn quipped, “I’m only on €30,000 so I must be down in the third world”.

Clonlara based Cllr Michael Begley (IND) stated, “it is very welcome on the face of it but if you look at the detail the window for the number of people that can fit on the scheme would be very small”.

Cathaoirleach of the Shannon MD, Cllr Donna McGettigan (IND) questioned, “who are the affordable houses affordable to. It is crazy the amount of money you have to earn to be able to qualify. Labelling it as affordable is wrong because it isn’t”.

Responding to the views expressed, Farrell replied that he was “conscious” of the difficulties surrounding the scheme, “it is really about influencing the national policy. Looking at the ones in Shannon and Ennis, the response to that will give us hard facts, I will talk to Jason (Murphy, Director of Social Development) on the clientele coming forward and the issues they are having”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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