HOUSING supply is the big problem facing Donegal rather than affordability.
That is according to Sinn Féin TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn in his reaction to the Affordable Housing Bill 2021 which has been brought before Cabinet.
Designed to address house prices across the State, the scheme will see €75 million of Exchequer funds allocated to allow the Government to offer equity loans of up to 20 per-cent on new-build homes. These will be interest-free for the first five years before rising gradually up to year 30 when the rate will be 2.85 per-cent.
The price of the homes eligible will be capped based on region with seven different rates being used.
Dublin at the top end will have a price cap of €450,000 while Donegal will have a lowest-end cap of €225,000 along with counties Cavan, Leitrim, Longford, Mayo, Monaghan, Sligo and Tipperary.
But Pádraig Mac Lochlainn says the problem is not pricing but rather the lack of new homes being built in Donegal.
“In 2002 we had a situation where 560 houses were either built or acquired in Donegal, but mostly built. That was 560 houses in a single year.
“Over the last eleven years the total number of houses we have built or acquired is 543. That is the real issue here. Yes affordable housing is a massive issue down the country as is the cost of rent but in Donegal the issue is that we have not built houses for eleven years.”
In January there were 941 individuals or families on the waiting list for social housing in Donegal with a further 1,706 households on the transfer list.
Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said that in the absence of social homes, more and more people are being forced into the private rental sector. And with houses in short supply, rents are going up.
“In Donegal you have at least 2,500 families in privately rented housing. So instead of building houses and the money being retained by the State, we are giving it to private landlords.
“And then of course the other problem is the rising price of private rentals, particularly in our towns. A working family will firstly find it difficult to find a house and when they do they will have to pay more than they should.
“Affordable housing is a big issue down the country but in Donegal it is more about our appalling record of council house building and the fact that we are increasingly putting money into the private rental sector.”