Think outside the box to find solutions to housing crux

OPINION: There is no one size fits all solution to the Kerry housing crisis but suitable solutions can be found if the problem is broken up into manageable parts, writes Cllr Michael Cahill, Deputy Mayor of Kerry County Council and Cathaoirleach of Kenmare Municipal District.

THE supply of houses is a critical component to the economy of the country and may determine whether or not our young, well educated workforce will remain in Ireland to contribute to developing success for us all. But there are solutions available.

We will need to look at a number of different schemes, to deal with different sectors, some of whom are under even more pressure than others. We will need to look, possibly, at providing modular homes to take people off the housing list initially.

And there are those also who may be in a position to contribute towards the provision of their accommodation and that may require a separate scheme altogether.

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien chatting with Tracey Brosnan when he visited the Co-operative Housing Ireland development in Barraduff.
Picture: Valerie O’Sullivan

We have a major housing crisis in Ireland and here in Kerry and we need to act swiftly before it is too late for our people.

Modular housing is an option that could be introduced quite quickly and be used as a transient interim solution while more permanent housing is delivered.

Then, there are a substantial number of people who have a housing requirement closer to the end of their working lives, who find that they can afford a deposit for a house or apartment, but will not qualify for a mortgage, to enable them to purchase and they cannot afford private lettings.

Approaching retirement age and having a small nest egg but not owning a property, your housing options are very limited. You cannot afford to purchase, you will not qualify for a mortgage and private lettings are both scarce and unaffordable. Where to?

Is it possible that here in Ireland we could develop a scheme whereby people in such circumstances could contribute a set percentage to the construction of their council owned home, contribute a rental for the property and automatically transfer the title back to the council on their passing?

Such a scheme has the advantage of providing funding to construct additional social housing that will remain in the ownership of the local authority, while reducing numbers on the housing list. It also provides accommodation for those who otherwise would be in a type of limbo.

VIP visitor: Stephanie Westhall, who moved into her new house at Láthair na Mánach in Rathmore, gets a call from Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, with Minister for Education Norma Foley, Cllr Niall Kelleher and Mayor of Kerry Cllr Jimmy Moloney.
Picture: Valerie O’Sullivan

In Kerry, we have an urgent need for additional housing for residents. We also have a large amount of vacant and derelict properties in our towns and villages.

The Repair to Lease scheme that applies to properties that are vacant for 12 months are more would appear to be the ideal vehicle to address these issues by bringing vacant and derelict properties up to standard, adding hugely to the housing stock available for leasing and bringing life back to our towns and villages.

To improve the viability of the scheme, I recently proposed at a council meeting that Kerry County Council call on the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, to increase this interest free loan from €60,000, currently available under the scheme, to €100,000 and this is currently being considered by the minister and his officials.

It is obvious that we need to think outside the box if we are to bring forward workable solutions to our housing needs. There is no one size fits all solution available, so it makes sense that we break the problem up in to manageable parts and apply suitable effective solutions.