Housing crisis

Mayo’s housing crisis reaches ‘desperate’ proportions

FOUR people without a bed for the night and absolutely nowhere to go – not even a tent to shelter in.

This was the reality of homelessness faced by Mayo residents, a situation exacerbated by visitors enjoying the summer sun occupying all available beds in hotels and bed and breakfasts.

A similar story is told in the constituency offices of Rose Conway-Walsh “every day, several times a day”.

It is, Sinn Féin TD admits, ‘almost impossible’ to keep track of the number of people contacting its offices in Belmullet, Ballina and Castlebar seeking help finding or keeping a home, or even just a place to lie down to the night .

“It’s a desperate situation and the government doesn’t seem to understand the absolute urgency of it,” she said.

After a call with those affected here, August, she said, is problematic with holiday accommodation not available despite the council’s efforts to help.

The house these people have lived in for years has been sold and there is nothing to offer them.

The housing crisis continues to deepen, with rents in Mayo up 90% from their lowest point, according to the latest daft.ie report. They have increased by 16% in the last year alone.

Meanwhile, instead of continuing with rapid construction, local authority housing projects are bogged down in bureaucracy and taking far too long to get off the ground, she said.

The Mayo Cost of Living Coalition, whose members include Sinn Féin and People Before Profit, is staging protests next month demanding action on the inflationary crisis.

Deputy Conway-Walsh gets calls every day from people whose families are struggling to survive and from small business owners facing closure as energy bills double. A Mayo company’s electricity bill in August rose from €18,127 last year to €41,530 – after cutting their consumption by 11%.

This company employs 50 people. “Where are they going?” she asked.

Two smaller stores also reported increases of 50% last week, with bills now at €4,000 and €9,000 respectively.

“These businesses will not be able to survive,” she said, having a ripple effect on their communities.

The budget offers the opportunity to address some issues one way or another, but the measures must be fair and targeted, said MP Conway-Walsh.