Mayo's unaffordable affordable housing crux

THE majority of people who have expressed an interest in availing of affordable housing in Mayo would not be able to meet the cost of a home under current schemes.

In a survey of nearly 800 people, just 4% had the means to pay.

The stark reality was revealed at a meeting of Mayo County Council's housing strategic policy committee.

A total of 775 people responded to a recent survey to say they would be interested in an affordable scheme if one became available in the county.

Some 81% of them - 632 people - are above the social housing income level of €27,500, earning between that and €50,000. A mere 4% (28 people) have earnings over €70,000.

On the maximum prices people said they could afford to pay, just 4% (34 people) could pay over €200,000. The current all in cost to build a three-bedroom house is between €260,000 to €280,000.

Eleven per cent of respondents could pay up to €200,000. A further 21% could only afford to pay between €50,000 and €75,000.

Analysis of the answers given shows just five people in the Castlebar district could pay more than €200,000 for a home.

The figure for Westport is 14, Ballina three, and seven for Claremorris/Swinford.

On where respondents indicated they wished to live in Mayo, the breakdown was: Westport/Belmullet Municipal District (MD) 39%, Castlebar MD 22%, Ballina MD 21%, and Claremorris/Swinford MD 18%.

In terms of family size, 82% of respondents have either no children or up to two children (42% no children, 21% one child, 21% two children).

Over half of respondents (52%) indicated they would like a three-bedroom home, with 25% seeking four-bed properties and 23% requiring two-bed.

Committee members were told that a large cohort of households who have expressed an interest would not be able to afford an affordable house under current schemes.

These people, said Councillor Michael Kilcoyne, could not get social housing or a mortgage and were condemned to poverty forever.

He proposed that this report be presented at the next full meeting of Mayo County Council and that the authority immediately applies for department funding to help these people through some kind of an affordable housing scheme.

He also called for the county's four TDs to be called in to explain what they are going to do about this.

There are, he commented, people sleeping nine or 10 in houses because their sons and daughters cannot afford to rent.

Director of services Tom Gilligan highlighted some other figures thrown up in the survey - 77% of people want a three- or four-bedroom house, yet 63% of people have no children or just one child.