There is a crisis in the availability of affordable housing stock, for both private ownership or long term rental, for permanent residents in West Clare
The director of service had a positive response for us, (detailed at the end of this post) and I hope the research will be carried out in a timely manner so we can start to really get a handle on a huge on-going issue that I believe hasn’t received enough attention or political resolve to tackle up to now.
The Housing for All plan provides a fully funded suite of solutions that will address the significant housing issues in the country, and I applaud both the vision within the plan and pragmatism required to deliver it put forward by Minister Darragh O Brien and his department. But, and there’s always a but, the devil will be in the detail as to where these solutions will be provided. Unless recognisance is taken of the unique challenges around affordable housing provision for permanent residents in highly touristed counties like Clare, especially within our coastal communities, the HFA plan will fail this county.
The demand for second or holiday homes is long recognised worldwide as a push factor around the lack of housing availability for permanent community members in holiday resorts.
Covid has become another push factor, as remote work has become more prevalent by necessity, a different type and quality of life has become more attractive, and possible and people are moving in increasing numbers to our rural and coastal settings. We do a remarkable job of telling the world how amazing this county is and so its no surprise that large amounts of people would like to come and live here…but it is becoming increasingly evident that this is at the cost to those who already do… those on low – middle incomes cannot compete for properties with those on much higher incomes, who may have sold on a property in a big city and have significant capital to invest in their new life. Time and time again our existing community members are either being outbid on a property or the house the are renting is being put up for sale leaving them no choice but to leave for other parts of the county with less pressure.
I recently asked the Minister if there were provisions made within HFA plan to take into account the specific and unique challenges faced by coastal communities; I believe he missed my point as being specific to Kilkee, but its not just Kilkee…its every single one of thousands of small towns and villages around the coast of Ireland…I believe this council, along with all other councils with high pressure zones due to second home ownership, need to make the case to the Minister and the Department in no uncertain terms as to the necessity of providing either long term, secure tenured rental accommodation or affordable homes for permanent residents, for those who want to remain living in their home communities as they have done for generations. I currently have 10 families, from Kilkee and the wider Loop Head Peninsula , with 20 children, that are having to look outside their home area for housing, this will have monumental impact on all facets of the sustainability of our community.
We are facing a huge challenge; our tourism strategy proposes to deliver economic benefit through the delivery of high quality attractions and experiences, some of the largest we own ourselves, to deliver on the sustainable tourism model we need to ensure as much of the economic benefit accrues locally so we need look at longer staying higher spending visitors, but where will the people who work in the places providing these services live…at the minute they cant afford or are not able to live in these communities close to the tourism attractions. Will they commute in and out of Ennis or Shannon…
Moneypoint is on the cusp of providing up to 600 jobs through renewable energy production, again I ask, where will these people live if we do not begin to put in place a plan to deliver the required housing to ensure this development delivers for the communities within which its being delivered.
Housing for All certainly offers a solution, but there is a responsibility on us to ensure it’s a solution that is available to all of our citizens across all of the county, not just those in our highly populated urban core. Used properly, it could provide the critical impetus for rural regeneration, which let us not forget, is also at the heart of government policy.
Reply from Director of Service Anne Haugh:
“The recently published Government Housing plan ‘Housing for All’ sets out the framework for housing delivery up to 2030, this policy document will inform the housing targets and objectives for local authorities. In addition, the process for preparation of a new County Development Plan requires the preparation of a Housing Strategy which will set out how the anticipated population growth can be accommodated in the County over the lifetime of the plan.
Supply of housing remains the key issue in the County, there is minimal development(s) of scale under construction at this time. The lack of new housing supply has impacted on the second-hand market which has seen significant increase in property prices in the County.
In a recent circular issued by the Dept of Housing, Local Government and Heritage the basis for allocation of funding from the newly established Affordable Housing Fund was outlined as follows:
Funding will be specifically targeted at areas where a strong demand for affordable housing units is evidenced, by reference to a Housing Need and Demand Assessment (HNDA) carried out in accordance with the guidance to local authorities circulated in April 2021 or other verifiable data indicating a strong, evidence-based affordable housing need. Where an Assessment for an administrative area has been undertaken using the specific HNDA Guidance and Tool, it will form the sole basis of determination of a strong demand for affordable housing units.
At this juncture the Council is awaiting further detailed criteria against which applications for affordable schemes will be assessed but it is clear that a robust evidence based case will need to accompany any such application which will identify a verifiable housing need in the area in question and that the proposed dwellings can in location and price address that need.
In this regard it is intended to commission a detailed study as requested in the motion which will build on the data already compiled as part of the preparation of the Housing Strategy.
Members will be advised as requested as to the timelines for completion of this research. Mise le meas,
Director of Service
Social Development (Housing, Culture and Sport/Recreation) & Killaloe Municipal District Co-Ordinator.”