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‘Impossible to pay rent & move into retirement’ – Killeen

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Clare councillors have requested more ambitious housing targets from the Department of Housing.

Following on from a motion by Cllr Joe Killeen (FF), Clare councillors have called for the introduction of “constructive solutions to high rents and low levels of house ownership,” the introduction of “more ambitious targets for houses built or renovated” within the State and by local authorities in the next five years “to help alleviate the Housing Crisis”.

Last year, Clare County Council exceeded some of the Rebuilding Ireland targets laid out by the Department of Housing. Across HAP and RAS schemes they hit 500, ahead of the targeted 475. The local authority did not build 100 new homes as expected, instead 90 were constructed. Only 26 properties were secured for leasing while the Department had aspired that Clare County Council would hit the figure of 80.

Cllr Killeen highlighted the “huge difficulty with housing both locally and nationally” at the last sitting of the local authority. He believed the building targets for 2011 up until 2015 lacked ambition. “There are low levels of house ownership but a strong rental market,” he outlined. “The State pension is €1174 per month, the average rent is €980, it is not possible for someone renting to move into retirement and continue to pay rent”.

Two of every three of individuals aged 25 to 30 year owned a house in 1991, Cllr Killeen claimed and said the figure is now down to one in every three. The Corofin native called for the introduction of tax incentives and proper Government policy. “A couple need to be earning €90,000 to pay rent,” he estimated.

Chair of the Social Development SPC, Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) seconded the motion and told the North Clare councillor he was very welcome to join the SPC. “A lot of Councils are left holding houses that cost a lot of money to build during the boom, they sold houses off at a 50% loss”. Cllr Flynn commended the work done by the local authority in this regard and stressed the need for step-down housing.

“Affordable housing not making the agenda in any form,” Cllr Pat Hayes (FF) stated as he shared his support for the motion. “There are a category of people being left out and there is no chance to try get them on the ladder”.

Council Chief Executive, Pat Dowling said that their focus on social policy “is to deal with the affordability of homes”. He believed the targets for the local authority at present were difficult and lamented the speed at which Rebuilding Ireland operates, “it is very bureaucratic” with a four stage approval process.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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