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Sligo Now


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Anger over proposals for older people to downsize their homes

One man has criticised the Government for suggesting older people could downsize their homes to help with the property crisis.
Elderly people living in large homes may be offered tax incentives and grants to downsize.
It is a measure being considered ahead of the publication of the 'Housing For All' plan. The plan is not finalised with a Government spokesperson saying "nothing is set in stone" and "everything is still on the table".
The plan will layout a roadmap for how to sort the housing crisis - with one such measure being considered to encourage elderly people in three and four bedroom homes to 'rightsize'.
Gerry O'Leary (63) was on Newstalk radio and said that a lack of housing is not his fault. "If the Government want to encourage people to rightsize, and let's be quite honest it's actually downsize, they'd want to be able to produce a building or a property that will be equal or better than what I'm in at the moment.
"I'm enraged that anyone would even suggest or even prefer an argument that because of my age that I should consider getting rid of my house and downsizing.”
"Something that I've worked at for 40+ years, and I retired some years ago, how dare anybody tell me that I should downsize or get rid of my house so that somebody else can get it." Gerry says his house is for his daughter, who herself cannot afford a home. "This argument has been preferred for for quite a while over the last number of years. "If the Government cannot at the moment, or will not, provide adequate housing for society.... if they turn around then and say that because Gerry O'Leary is 64-years-old or whatever and that he should really downsize: how dare anybody tell me that I should downsize. "I'm holding on to my house, by the way... for my daughter, so that she can get a house. "She will not be able to get a mortgage because it's too expensive to buy a house.
"How can anybody tell me, or how dare anybody tell me, I should really get rid of my house so that somebody else can have it. "People can't afford to buy it because they can't get a mortgage, and the Government won't do anything about it. "It's a bit tongue-in-cheek by the Government to even suggest [this]".
"As an elderly person I want something that I can live in for the rest of my days and hand over - why don't you get some of the younger people who have one and two properties, or three properties, let them give up their home to the Government who have failed to provide adequate housing. "It's not my fault
'Dictating to older people' Alice Leahy, director of the Alice Leahy Trust, told Pat Kenny show that the Government needs to be careful. "I do know there is a very serious problem and it's been allowed to develop over the years. "This does need to be addressed - but when I saw 'right sizing' and 'age in place' I thought 'Here we go again, another glossy report'. "I must say I do think the politicians are trying to do something, and I wouldn't want to dismiss that. "But have you ever noticed that when the Government changes they decide that they will change the title of one agency or another? "There will be the enormous expense, there will be the spin, the publicity... but the work remains the same. "So when I saw 'right sizing' and 'age in place' that's what I thought of." Ms Leahy says one particular aspect is making her uneasy. "It's almost as if we could be dictated to say 'You're not living in the right place, you're not ageing in the right place - let us sort it for you'. "I think it's much more complex than that, and we mustn't ignore the human condition".
Referring to the writings of Anthony Powell, Ms Leahy said: "Growing old is like being increasingly penalised for a crime you haven't committed.
"And the more I hear about cocooners and now we're looking at ageing in the right place... we must make sure that older people are treated with respect.
"Many of the older people - and dare I say all of them - have worked hard, have saved hard to have bought a house maybe that has all their memories and they have built up their friends in the community.
"Where do those people, where do they go to?" She says there needs to be a "whole rethinking", adding: "And very often the very people who object to building such places are maybe the very councillors who, are on the one hand, promoting such accommodation and then they maybe object to it when it's put before them.
"Is this just another bureaucratic exercise?" Responding to one texter who inquired about a house-swap in his area, she suggested that politicians need to listen to the people involved. "I do know there'd be lots of people who would love to downsize in the area where they live, and like that man said... to maybe swap, why are they not doing this?
"Is it just that they're not aware of the possibilities that are there, and there are possibilities there. "And I think maybe they are just listening to the people who are going through a bookkeeping exercise - they are not listening, I think"