‘Most young people in Kilkenny can only dream of owning their own home’ – TD unveils plan to combat housing crisis
Kilkenny County Council must be given back the power – and the resources – to tackle our deepening housing crisis, a local TD has claimed.
Deputy Kathleen Funchion spoke out as she today unveiled a basic three-step plan to combat the chronic shortage of social and affordable housing in Kilkenny and Carlow.
The Sinn Féin frontbench spokesperson has called for:
*25% of all new housing units to be designated for social housing;
*Land in rural parts of the county to allocated as ‘service sites’ to allow locals to build their own homes at affordable prices;
*The deposit required for the council mortgage scheme to be cut from 10% to 3%.
Deputy Funchion’s intervention came as the embattled Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy tonight faces a second vote of no confidence in the Dáil. Minister Murphy is likely to survive the vote, despite Sinn Féin’s support for the motion.
Deputy Funchion said Minister Murphy and the Government has “utterly failed” to address the housing and homeless crisis in Kilkenny and the rest of the country. She has called for more power and funding to be given back to councils to build social and affordable housing units to meet their own local needs.
“The housing crisis in Kilkenny and Carlow is getting worse, not better, and most young people today haven’t a hope of owning their own home or of getting their feet on the property ladder. They’re barely able to cover the cost of their rising rents every month, never mind trying to save for a deposit or qualify for a mortgage,” said Deputy Funchion.
The mother-of-two young children, Deputy Funchion also lives in rented accommodation and said it is unlikely she will ever be in a position to buy her own home. It’s the same situation the vast majority of young people in Ireland now find themselves in, but Deputy Funchion insists it doesn’t have to be this way.
“The gap between the haves and have nots in our society is widening. Unless you come from a wealthy family who can help you with a deposit, the sad fact of the matter is that most young people will only be able to dream of owning their own home one day,” said Deputy Funchion.
“There are many things the Government can do to help young people, but unfortunately it just doesn’t appear to be a priority for them, despite all their publicity roadshows about ‘Rebuilding Ireland’.
“Local authorities understand the housing needs in their own area far better than a minister sitting in their office Dublin does – so let the council assess their own social housing needs and give them the support to go and build them.”
In response to a parliamentary question from Deputy Funchion, Minister Murphy confirmed Kilkenny is one of 14 local authorities that will benefit from almost 3,200 “affordable” homes under the Serviced Sites Fund (SSF). Kilkenny also received approval for funding for housing projects in the city’s Western Environs and in Ferrybank under the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) that are currently under construction.
However, Deputy Funchion said these are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is needed to meet the demand for social and affordable homes, with over 2,500 people currently languishing on Kilkenny County Council’s housing list.
“A far more radical approach is needed, and we have to go back to what has worked best in the past for previous generations,” the Kilkenny TD added.
“We need to set aside at least a quarter of new housing units for social housing in urban areas, but we also need to make it affordable. The 10% deposit for the council mortgage scheme is simply too high for many people who are struggling to keep their heads above water – I want to see this reduced to 3%.
“In rural parts of the county, far too many of our young people are being forced to leave their own towns and villages. By taking a partnership approach with the council and local organisations, specific sites can be identified to allow local people to build their homes locally at affordable prices.”