Affordable Housing Scheme rejected by County Council

by Gary Ibbotson
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The Department of Housing owes the council almost €10m for social housing projects

The Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has rejected Minister Eoghan Murphy’s Affordable Housing Scheme for the south Dublin area.

At this month’s council meeting, the local representatives voted almost unanimously to reject the scheme proposed by Minister Murphy and the Department of Housing. Only one councillor abstained from the vote.

Although signed into law by Minister Murphy last June, the regulations and guidelines for the scheme were only issued to local councils for deliberation in the past few weeks.

The scheme intends to allow low and middle-income buyers, who cannot afford a mortgage on the open market but are also not suitable for social housing, be given the chance to purchase a house in their respective county.

It is proposed that purpose built homes will be sold for 40% less than their market value to applicants who fit the suitable criteria.

Councillors were told that to qualify for the scheme, applicants must have lived in the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown jurisdiction for at least 12 months prior to applying.

It was also suggested that qualifying applicants must work or attend an educational institution within a certain number of kilometres away from the residence.

Councillors’ objections to the scheme included the current lack of homes available, the absence of income-based criteria for applicants and no allowance for former long term residents of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown who have since moved due to increased rent and property prices.

“The single biggest problem is that there isn’t a single house in the scheme,” says councillor Melisa Halpin.

“No home actually exists and there are no eligibility criteria in terms of income,” she says.

“The current average house price in Dun Laoghaire is €540,000. 40% less than the market price is not affordable to anybody who is looking to avail of the scheme.”

Local independent councillor, Michael Merrigan, says that the scheme does not cater for people who have had to leave the area due to incremental rent prices.

“Our young people have had to go to Gorey, Arklow and other areas to find places to purchase or rent.

“There are no criteria in the document that allows us to attract those people back to Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown.”

Minister Eoghan Murphy had not replied for comment by the time of publication.

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