'The number who can't put a roof over their heads is rising dramatically': Campaigners blast housing poverty trap 

Blackrock native, Dr Seán Healy raised concerns about stark findings from the organisation's Housing and Poverty 2022 report published today.
'The number who can't put a roof over their heads is rising dramatically': Campaigners blast housing poverty trap 

Dr Sean Healy expressed concern about the impact the housing crisis will have on future generations.

THE CEO of Social Justice Ireland warned that the Government is entering dangerous territory as housing costs drive more Cork families into a poverty trap it's feared may last generations.

Blackrock native, Dr Seán Healy raised concerns about stark findings from the organisation's Housing and Poverty 2022 report published today.

The study's main national findings found that the overall poverty rate increases from 13.3% before housing costs to 19% after housing costs – an increase of almost 300,000 people. Renters are the worst affected, with 44.7% at risk of poverty after housing payments.

Dr Healy pointed out that a significant portion accounts for the Southern region.

"The bottom line is that the cost of keeping a roof over your head is driving people into poverty nationally," he said. "This is the case for 333,000 nationally. Almost half of this number are located in the Munster region with 162,000 currently in this position.

“I would go further than saying this is ridiculous. I would say it is dangerous. The number of people who can't put a roof over their heads is rising dramatically.

“More and more people are on the verge of poverty because they have to pay exorbitant amounts to keep a roof over their heads."

Munster figures

Dr Healy elaborated on the numbers specific to Munster adding: "There are just over a quarter of a million people living in the Southern region. That poverty figure increases from over a quarter of a million to 415,000, in effect, when you include mortgage interests and payments in the South. 160,000 are pushed into poverty from these costs.

“That's a very dramatic figure that sheds light on two things. Firstly, it shows that an awful lot of people are not that far away from poverty. Secondly, it shows that housing has a huge impact on the money people actually have. This is not the cost of buying a house, but rather keeping a roof over your head.

“There are some awfully simple basics you need in life that include food, accommodation and clothing. This is not rocket science. They are fundamental basics that people should have. What we have built is one of the richest societies in the world but you don't see that when looking at our housing situation."

Future impact

Dr Healy expressed concern about the impact the housing crisis will have on future generations.

"If the cost of housing is so high, now fewer and fewer are going to be able to buy a house," he said.

"That has a huge implication down the line because up to now Ireland's pension policies have been built on an assumption that when you retired you either owned the house and had the mortgage-more or less paid-paid off or lived in social housing.

“Now, we have a situation where people aren't going to buy their house or apartment. That is a very serious thing. Everybody wishes to age well at home and that means having sufficient income to cope with housing costs and maintenance of themselves.

“Ageing well at home is an aspiration that most Irish people would have. They don't want to go into nursing homes unless they really have to. The reality now is that there is huge pressure being put on people to loan money to their children for a downpayment on a house.

“We have to ask ourselves what the next generation will do when they find themselves in the same situation. They won't be able to borrow money when their parents never had it in the first place."

'Action needs to be taken'

He appealed to Cork City and County Councils to take action.

"With this in mind, it's critically important for the local authorities of Cork City and County to dramatically increase the number of social housing units being provided in their local authority areas. That's how you take people with low incomes out of the rental market.” Politicians, he added, need to take the crisis more seriously.

"Politicians are convinced they have got on top of this but they are not solving it. Even if the Housing for All scheme was fully implemented it would still mean there would be 30,000 households on waiting lists for housing 10 years from now. This is a fundamental issue."

Social Justice Ireland's Housing and Poverty 2022 report also shed light on the reality for those in receipt of subsidies.

It showed that poverty increases by 150% after rent payments for households receiving subsidies. According to its findings, the poverty risk of households in receipt of housing subsidies is two and a half times greater after they have paid their rent.

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