SIGNIFICANT divisions have arisen over a new strategy of anti-social behavior involving properties managed and supported by Mayo County Council.
Elected officials have signaled their intention to withdraw housing subsidies from homeowners where tenants are involved in activities that cause stress and anxiety to their neighbors.
This “get tough” approach is driven by incidents in areas in towns across the county where residents have been left to live in fear due to aggressive and violent behavior – and the situation appears to be escalating.
The municipality pays large sums of money each year in the form of subsidies, including housing assistance (HAP) and the rental housing scheme (RAS). And elected officials believe that stopping these payments would have a major impact on solving this problem.
However, the board executive believes that a successful resolution of anti-social behavior can only be achieved on the basis of a multi-agency partnership approach to include Gardaí, HSE and Tusla.
This approach is supported in a drafting submission for the new policy by Leanne Barrett of Mayo Public Participation Network (PPN), a community representative on City Council’s Housing Strategic Policy Committee.
She noted: “Punitive measures and sanctions have not been shown to significantly reduce incidents of antisocial behavior, nor have they served much to prevent problems arising from such behavior.
Case studies and international evidence suggest that engaging with communities has proven to be the best way to combat this behavior. A sense of belonging and pride in one’s place can be a significant deterrent from negatively impacting that place.
“A proactive and phased response would be to identify key areas of the county with particularly high incidents of antisocial behavior and assign one or more community workers to engage the area and its residents.”
However, Councilor Michael Kilcoyne said the multi-agency approach has not worked and it is incumbent on elected members to support law-abiding citizens whose lives are disrupted by anti-social behavior.
“There is not an elected official in this county who has not received a complaint about problems in one or more of their local subdivisions. I would say all parties support a stricter and more punitive anti-social behavior strategy. We also want to see An Garda Síochána play a more central role in dealing with the problem. “
Councilors on the council housing SPC support anonymous complaints that are investigated and that investigations should begin within 10 days of a complaint being filed.