Ballina councillors are hoping to introduce a new pilot scheme to test the demand for affordable housing in the municipal district.
Killala-based Fine Gael Cllr Jarlath Munnelly proposed that the municipal district earmark up to 10 social houses and write to the Department of Housing to find out if it can put them on the market through the Affordable Housing Scheme. If it doesn’t work, the properties can be returned to the social housing pool.
Fine Gael Cllr John O’Hara said the scheme would be ideal for people who are unable to obtain a mortgage.
Cathaoirleach of the district Cllr Mark Duffy also supported the proposal and said it had the added benefit that the scheme could be undertaken for minimal cost because the houses are already built.
“There will be a demand in Ballina. This will be for people in the middle who are getting squeezed at both ends,” Cllr Duffy said.
Mayo Co Council’s director of services for the Ballina municipal district Tom Gilligan revealed that consultancy firm KPMG has agreed to conduct a report on affordable housing in Ballina and hopes to have it completed before Christmas. He said the council would need ‘facts and figures’ in its letter to the department about the proposed scheme.
Cllr Munnelly urged Mr Gilligan to inform the Department that the council is awaiting KPMG’s report, so it might look more favourably on the proposal
However, Mr Gilligan warned that the council would be denying 10 people social housing if they go ahead with these plans.
Cllr Duffy responded by saying that the council needs to ‘move beyond the friction of social versus affordable housing’ and should be thinking of housing for all.
“This is for the people who can’t get on the social housing scheme but can’t get a mortgage. Like a single parent who is living at home with their parents but is looking to start on their own.”
Mr Gilligan said he was just informing councillors of ‘the reality’, but was more than happy to write to the Department.