Prospective homebuyers will have to have lived in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown for at least eight years to be prioritised for affordable housing in that region under new rules approved by county councillors.
Eligibility criteria to buy discounted homes under the State-backed affordable housing purchase scheme were issued by the Government last year. However, local authorities were given discretion in the allocation of up to 30 per cent of homes in new affordable housing estates, if there were more applicants than properties.
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown has the highest house prices in the State and is expected to see a strong demand for affordable housing schemes once they come on stream. The council plans to provide about 850 affordable homes for sale by 2026 in a number of new estates across the local authority area. It is expected that most of these schemes will be oversubscribed.
Councillors have this week agreed to ring-fence 30 per cent of new affordable homes for “locals”. Buyers will still have to meet general eligibility criteria in relation to income and household size, but will be at the top of the queue to buy the first 30 per cent of homes on sale in any affordable housing scheme, if they have lived in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown for at least eight years.
Buyers do not have to be currently resident in Dún Laoghaire as long as they can prove they spent eight years in the area over their lifetime.
While councillors agreed to adopt the scheme, concerns were raised about the lack of priority for key workers on lower incomes who may work in Dún Laoghaire but who would not satisfy the “local” criteria.
“The public servants that are serving us in this county, in our schools, in this council, in our hospitals… they can’t possibly afford to live in this county,” Labour Party councillor Carrie Smyth said. “There’s nothing in this scheme for people who are working in the county and unfortunately can’t live in the county because it’s just so expensive.”
Her Labour colleague Lettie McCarthy said it was becoming “more and more difficult to get teachers to come and teach in schools across Dublin because they cannot afford to live here”.
John Kennedy of Fine Gael said the 30 per cent priority struck a balance. “It is important people who live in the area and have grown up in the area will have some prioritisation but we have to bear in mind there will be young police force members, young nurses coming from outside the county serving people in the county,” who needed to be catered for within the remaining 70 per cent of homes, he said.
Several councillors argued the proportions should be reversed so the council could allocate 70 per cent of the homes to locals.
“This is the county with the highest price in terms of homes, it is therefore the county with the greatest need [for affordable housing],” Independent councillor Anne Colgan said. “For that to apply to only 30 per cent of people who live in the county is very difficult to understand. It is extremely disappointing.”
Helen Griffin of the council’s housing department told the meeting to agree the scheme, that the 30 per cent local priority homes would be allocated first in any estate, and local people would have a further chance at securing the remaining 70 per cent of homes.
“We will start with the 30 per cent. That will give the people of the county a better chance then, when you look at the 70 per cent, obviously some of them would be resident in the county, so we would end up with more than 30 per cent of the dwellings going to people who live in the county.”