WITH a major shortage of housing in the town, Councillor Gerry Flynn queried what is holding up the delivery of an affordable housing scheme for the town, at Tuesday’s meeting of Shannon Municipal District meeting.
It has recently emerged that Ennis and Shannon are not ineligible for affordable housing schemes, although rural parts of the county are.
At this week’s meeting Councillor Flynn put forward a motion asking that the Council “urgently submit an application for funding to the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien for the development of a scheme of affordable housing in Shannon to support the lower to middle income earners that want to purchase their own homes locally”.
A written response to the motion was put before the meeting, for the Council’s Director of Service Anne Haugh, which said that the local authority needs advice from the Department on what to do.
“Clare County Council initiated engagement with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in July of this year regarding the potential to have Ennis and Shannon approved for eligibility to the Affordable Purchase Scheme.
“The decision to extend access to the Affordable Housing fund for these two urban centres will have to be supported by a detailed and robust evidence-based submission which will demonstrate an affordability constraint in the local market.
“While there is a toolkit and model for conducting this analysis on a countywide basis there is no specific template for the sub-county level and the Council are reliant on advice and direction from the Department of Housing for purpose of compiling this submission.
“We have sought a meeting with the department and we look forward to the scheduling of this meeting where we are hopeful we will be advised of the application criteria/process for Clare County Council.
“Based on the outcome of this meeting and clarification of the data and process required the Housing Department will apply all necessary resources to the compliation of a submission seeking access to the Affordable Housing fund for delivery of affordable schemes on suitable sites to be identified in both towns.”
Councillor Flynn was critical of the response saying that it was “frightening” that the Council are even now looking for clarification of the data required. “That says it all,” he commented.
He said that the application criteria “can’t be that difficult” and the Council should be able to progress it.
Councillor Flynn said that he had met the Minister on his recent visit to Clare and been impressed with how “open and frank” he had been.
“While there is all this procrastination going on misfortunate people are homeless or can’t buy a home,” he added.
He said that it wasn’t right for delaying tactics to be employed, and he said they seemed to be at the Council’s end rather than the Department’s.
The Independent represenative warned that even after a scheme is approved it will take some time to deliver, and all the while people’s anxieties will be rising.
A number of other councillors backed his motion including Councillor Donna McGettigan who said that all councillors in the area are frequently contacted by people “begging us to help them” as they can’t get housing.
She said that official homeless figures underestimate the scale of the problem, as they don’t take account of people living temporarily with friends or relatives.
Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.