Housing report

Westport housing report ‘garbage load’

Report commissioned by Council draws criticism from residents and politicians

Michael Gallagher

A report commissioned by Mayo County Council has been called ridiculous by locals and politicians.
The report’s conclusion – that there is no affordability crisis in the town of West Mayo – was met with derision by families and individuals seeking to secure homes, and the situation is now dire according to local councilors.
“People are being let down. There are no affordable housing programs in Mayo. There is nothing for workers, and this report is a mess. The report only adds to the frustration and desperation felt by families in our community,” commented Cllr Christy Hyland.
KPMG’s ‘Housing Market Analysis Westport’ report states that there is ‘good affordability for all types of units in Westport’. It says the average expected cost of a house in Westport is £276,016 and that this is not causing an affordability crisis in the town.
Both statements are hotly contested on the ground.

‘Not normal’
“Honestly, I don’t know where these people are from,” potential buyer Shane Golden told The Mayo News. “First, how can an ordinary worker save for such a mortgage, and second, good luck to you if you can find a suitable house in Westport for that price.
“I’ve worked two jobs trying to get a house of my own, and there’s no prospect of me ever doing it. KPMG’s average house price takes into account all types of housing, from apartments from one bedroom to old houses that require an extra €100,000, but they fail to mention it.The affordability crisis is very real but the authorities are turning a blind eye to us.
A local couple, who wish to remain anonymous, told The Mayo News they had been renting a property for more than a decade and now risk tearing their family apart over an upcoming rent hike.
“If we wait in Westport, the family will have to separate. I will take one of the children and go live with my family and she will take the rest and go live with her mother.
“Can you really imagine that? We are at a point in our lives where things should get easier, but we face the prospect of separating the family and moving back in with our parents.
The couple saved religiously for ten years to secure a home, but now the prospect of doing so seems more distant than ever.
“I’m 42 and no matter what I do, I can’t provide a home in my own town for my family. It’s not normal. This is not good,” the husband explained in an emotional interview.

Their plight was highlighted by Cllr Hyland, who said the lack of affordable housing schemes in Mayo is a travesty. “There is absolutely no support for anyone earning over €26,000 – nothing! They are left in limbo and I honestly don’t think anyone in power cares.
Cllr Flynn, passionate about the issue, sees two actions that could be taken.
“There are two very simple solutions that would go a long way in helping our people,” he said. “First, provide serviced sites throughout the county. The County Council has land reserves everywhere, so why not develop plots in all our towns and villages – bring the services to them and sell them affordably to people in need. These people could then build their homes within a specific period of time, and this would benefit everyone, families, communities and the nation.
“Second, raise the ridiculous limit of €26,000 for social housing to €50,000. Go to every city in the country, build the houses and then people could pay them back according to their means. These two simple things have already been done in every town in Mayo, and I don’t see why it can’t be done again.
“I guess the housing list would go up hugely initially if the income threshold was raised and the narrative wouldn’t be a good one for whoever was in power at the time, but what do we want, a good narrative or our people in their own homes? ? I know what I want to see,” Flynn added.
pipe dream
At last week’s Mayo County Council Housing SPC meeting, it was announced that the local authority would build 115 homes in 2022 and another 899 before 2026.
However, this figure was castigated by Cllr Michael Kilcoyne.
“Today we have 1,400 homes on the list and that doesn’t take into account the huge amount of people in Mayo who need and want affordable housing.
What good is 90 units when we have literally thousands of families clamoring for a home? May God help all these people. The goals should be much bigger and the timelines much shorter.
“The government is committed to ending homelessness by 2030, but that’s another pipe dream,” Kilcoyne said.
At the end of the meeting councilors agreed that a register of everyone in need of affordable housing in Mayo should be compiled as a matter of urgency, and a media advertising campaign asking people to join the list will be put together shortly.