A SPECIAL meeting of Mayo County Council will take place this Friday where councillors will discuss the housing crisis in the county and the council’s strategy to tackle it.
The special meeting to discuss Mayo County Council’s Housing Strategy was called by councillors following criticism of the lack of affordable houses at a recent meeting of the Westport/Belmullet Municipal District meeting.
Westport-based councillors Peter Flynn and Christy Hyland criticised the decision by Mayo County Council not to include affordable houses in a 50 unit development on the Golf Course Road in Westport and called into question the overall strategy of delivering housing in the county.
In a document to councillors ahead of the meeting which will take place this Friday, Simon Shevlin, Head of Housing, stated that the council’s housing strategy is based on the document, Rebuilding Ireland 2016-2021, where targets are set in meeting housing needs under various delivery mechanisms.
The Mayo target under Rebuilding Ireland is for 708 units with 566 units completed and 210 in different stages of progress.
“The new National Housing Strategy ‘Building For All’ will be the basis for any changes to the Housing Strategy as well as the new Development Plan,” he wrote.
In regards to the social housing demand in Mayo, Mr Shelvin said the total demand in Mayo is 2,662 households, broken down by 1,181 on the housing waiting list and another 1,481 on the housing transfer list.
He added that the State currently supports 2,136 households in private accommodation in Mayo with 70 percent of these households requesting social housing.
“The development of social housing will always be the main priority for the State,” he stated.
One of the main issues raised by councillors regarding the housing strategy is the lack of affordable housing available to young people who are unable to avail of social housing.
Mr Shevlin said that all affordable housing schemes were discontinued in 2011 and a new scheme was developed in 2018 called the ‘Serviced Site Fund’.
“Mayo did not meet the economic standards set to apply for the scheme in 2019. There will be a call for the scheme in 2021 for which we currently developing an application. A key requirement of the scheme is that the houses can be developed at 10 percent below the average house price in the county. The average house price in Mayo for 2020 was €157,331. County Mayo is 26th lowest house price of the 31 local authorities,” he stated.
Other key areas of housing in Mayo outlined by Mr Shevlin include regeneration of town centres, building social housing in villages and Traveller accomodation.