Given that we live in one of the most sought-after addresses in Ireland, the housing crisis in Wicklow has hit many Greystones natives hard.
It’s a complex problem, of course, and one that would take at least a PhD in Sums to understand.
Whichever way you look at it, the numbers are frightening, especially for first-time buyers and those with little hope of affording such a luxury as a home in their hometown.
As is so often the case with complex problems, there are some simple changes that can help bring about a solution. For independent councillor Mags Crean, finding those critical changes in Wicklow’s existing housing policies has become something of a mission. And she’s got the motion to prove it.
Here’s the lowdown…
At the upcoming Wicklow County Council meeting in September, Independent Cllr. Mags Crean will be proposing a motion that calls on its members to protect public land for social and affordable housing.
“I am committed to making affordable housing a key concern over my term in local government,” states Crean. “The majority of houses developed in Wicklow over the past number of years have been unaffordable for individuals and households on low and average-to-middle incomes.”
With over 4,000 families in need of social housing, Crean also points out that there are many more not included in WCC’s figure who are in need of affordable housing. “Those in need of affordable housing to rent or buy include a locked-out generation of young families trying to balance high childcare and accommodation costs, students and young workers, plus older people facing retirement.
“Government policy is not working. The Rebuilding Ireland loans are slow to process and have a high decline rate, and there are few houses being directly built by the local authority – so, we need to be more proactive at a local level.”
It is for these reasons that Crean believes that the precedent has been set to declare a housing emergency, and that the affordable housing needs in our county through protecting public land should be a priority.
“At a local level, other County Councils have proposed and passed a motion to protect public land,” states the independent councillor, “and at a national level, there was cross-party support for a private motion in the Dail in 2018 to prioritise the delivery of public housing on public land.”
If Wicklow County Council supports this motion, Crean asserts that it could then be progressed to the Housing Strategic Policy Committee, and potentially integrated into the County Development Plan.
We caught up with Mags this afternoon, at Burnaby Mills in sunny Charlesland to find out more about what this motion will hopefully achieve…
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