*Cllr Gerry Flynn pictured at the Shannon Loop. Photograph: Eamon Ward
A SHANNON councillor has warned that the Housing for All Government policy is destined for failure and will not support individuals and families trying to rent or purchase affordable homes in the county.
Under the policy introduced by Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, Co Clare will also be denied affordable housing schemes outside of Ennis. The calculation system introduced Minister O’Brien is focused on large urban centres with a population in excess of 10,000 which rules out towns like Shannon, Kilrush, Ennistymon and Scariff plus larger areas like Sixmilebridge and Tulla as per the 2016 Census.
Speaking at a recent sitting of the Social Development Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) of Clare County Council, Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) described Housing for All as “somewhat flawed”. He explained, “I believe people in Clare who are in need of support to acquire their own homes and in turn build communities will not be treated in a fair and equitable way under this policy”.
Clare’s Housing Delivery Action Plan 2022-2026 “as dictated to by The Minister’s Housing Needs and Demand Assessment does not allow Clare to have a local authority led Affordable Purchase Scheme” which the SPC Chair believed was “very unfair to people in Clare who are crying out for affordable housing”.
Methods used to determine the percentage needs in Clare “is flawed,” he said and also flagged that the threshold for access to housing support puts the county in Band 3 “and at a disadvantage in comparison to our neighbouring local authority of Limerick City and County Council that are on band 2 that gives applicants an advantage of five thousand euros over applicants in Clare”. The threshold needs to be reviewed urgently, Cllr Flynn stressed.
Present reliance on the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) in Clare to provide accommodation on a long-term basis is not sustainable, the Shannon representative cautioned. “With the higher values of property a number of landlords are selling their properties and with a figure of over 1600 homes been provided by this scheme it is certainly very worrying and puts families in a very difficult situation when trying to establish stability for their children”.
Referring to the criteria whereby only Ennis would qualify for affordable housing delivery, Flynn said, “the rural areas of Clare and the towns and villages including Shannon would suffer from this policy”. He added, “the Government’s policy is on urban dwelling and this policy will destroy rural communities”.
Housing for All will not address the crisis in the county, Cllr Flynn lamented. Subsequently, he felt it would make the Clare Housing Delivery Acton Plan null and void. “Our Oireachtas Members in Clare are sleep walking their way through this inequitable policy and this is not acceptable”.
He added, “It was Government policy that stopped local authorities building social housing and handed it over to the private developers, and this was a failed policy and of course this happened during the boom and bust period when there was no proper government oversight of the banking fraternity and they were out of control. We are been told now how great the current government are in rebuilding our country and there will be housing for all. The people in Ireland are still paying the price for reckless behaviour by people in government and the cost of this continues”.
Flynn concluded, “the housing crisis is set to continue as the proposals from the current Minister for Housing fall well short of what is required to address this serious issue”.