PEOPLE looking for houses in West Cork have a huge problem, Fianna Fáil Deputy Margaret Murphy O’Mahony told the Dáil.
Rents are spiralling out of control, particularly in urban areas, and rent now consumes a huge proportion of take-home pay, she said. This is not sustainable.
‘People on the social housing list are reliant on the choice-based letting system,’ she said. ‘They go online week after week to no avail. Often there are no properties available. In addition to those who find themselves caught in the aforementioned circumstances, I wish to speak about a constituent I am helping.’
She said he has unexpectedly found himself caring for his extremely ill wife. ‘The couple have a substantial mortgage and they are at serious risk of losing their home but they simply cannot keep up with the mortgage payments. The banks are unwilling to renegotiate in any significant way,’ she said.
It is time to forget about the Government’s spin and rhetoric, at which it is very good, she added. ‘If it was half as good at providing houses we would not be speaking about this issue today. It is time to make houses available and to enact progressive policy that will alleviate the massive problem many of my constituents are experiencing. The Government is currently sleepwalking through this problem.’
Independent Deputy Michael Collins said the majority of those becoming homeless are in the private rental sector. ‘I refer to huge numbers of my constituents from Bandon, Kilbrittain, Ballinspittle, Ballinadee, Dunmanway, Skibbereen, Leap and Goleen,’ he said. ‘The list is endless. People are unable to get on the property ladder and have to resort to paying huge rents. It has nearly come to the point that renting is more expensive than paying a monthly mortgage.’
During the negotiations relating to A Programme for a Partnership Government, he said the notion of a rural resettlement scheme was discussed. ‘Depopulation is a worrying trend in rural communities. They do not stand still – they either develop or decline. As the housing crisis in our towns and cities worsens, there has never been a better time to promote rural resettlement.’