Dublin councils to vote on affordable housing scheme

Dubliners priced out of the capital over high rents face discrimination under scheme

Social housing: Local authorities have yet to build the homes, but they have been ordered to establish a ‘scheme of priority’ to determine in what order prospective buyers will be chosen. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Social housing: Local authorities have yet to build the homes, but they have been ordered to establish a ‘scheme of priority’ to determine in what order prospective buyers will be chosen. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

Dubliners who had to leave the capital because of high rents, face discrimination under a new affordable housing scheme for low and middle income workers.

Councillors in three Dublin local authorities – Dublin City Council, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and Fingal, will on Monday be asked to approve the scheme that determines who will be eligible to buy discounted homes built on local authority land.

South Dublin County Council has already voted in favour of the scheme, but councillors in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown last month rejected it because it made no provision for locals who moved away because they could not afford rents, or those who have had to emigrate but would like to return home. Councillors in Dublin city and in Fingal have expressed similar concerns.

Affordable homes will be aimed at workers who cannot secure mortgages to buy on the open market, but do not qualify for social housing. Once the homes are built, they will be sold to qualifying buyers at a discount of up to 40 per cent on market rates.

Local authorities have yet to build the homes, but they have been ordered to establish a “scheme of priority” to determine in what order prospective buyers will be chosen.

Criteria

The basic criteria will be that the homes are the right size for the buyer. However, with demand likely to be considerably higher than the supply of homes, further criteria, set down by the Department of Housing, have to be put in place. The next group to be considered would be a family where at least one member had been living in the council’s area for at least 12 months.

If there were still too many applicants, this would be narrowed down to those living in the area for at least 12 months who have a child in an educational institution within a set distance of the house for sale.

If there are still too few houses, they would go to those who also had a household member with a job a set distance from the house.

And if there were still not enough homes, a likely scenario based on demand, this qaulifying group would be dealt with on a first-come, first-served basis.

However, the priority scheme does not include people who have had to move outside Dublin to rent.

Vote deadline

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown councillors last month unanimously rejected the scheme but have been told by the Department of Housing they must vote again on Monday because the scheme has to be in place by June 18th to meet legislative requirements.

“This puts us between a rock and hard place. This does nothing for indigenous people who have been forced to leave Dún Laoghaire, I can see people coming back and going homeless just to qualify for the residency,” local Labour councillor Denis O’Callaghan said. “But if we don’t approve it, will it have consequences for future funding for the 40 per cent discount? This is an absolute unmitigated mess.”

People Before Profit councillor Melisa Halpin said she was “disgusted” to be ordered to vote again, while Sinn Féin’s Shane O’Brien said a huge cohort were being “completely locked out” of the scheme.

A spokesman for the department said it was a “requirement of the legislation” for councils to have a scheme of priority in place by June the 18th. The department was “extensively engaging” with local authority officials over the scheme.