'We can't abandon people': Cork councillors seek review of income limit threshold for social housing

Currently, only those earning less than €30,000 per year in Cork county (as a single person) and €35,000 in the city can qualify for social housing support
'We can't abandon people': Cork councillors seek review of income limit threshold for social housing

Councillors decided to write to the minister at this week’s full council meeting, where Fianna Fáil’s Seamus McGrath called for the income threshold to be lowered.

CORK County Council is calling on the minister for housing to review the income limits for those qualifying for social housing support.

Councillors decided to write to the minister at this week’s full council meeting, where Fianna Fáil’s Seamus McGrath called for the income threshold to be lowered.

Currently, only those earning less than €30,000 per year in Cork county (as a single person) and €35,000 in the city can qualify for social housing support. The thresholds have not been increased since 2011.

“With inflation and the increasing household costs, people are really struggling and those who are just over the income limits should be brought into the net,” Mr McGrath said.

“Obviously this will increase the number of people qualifying for social housing and I suspect that’s part of the reason that it hasn’t changed in 10 years but that’s not good enough. We can’t abandon people just to make the figures look good.”

Councillors were unanimous in their support, bringing up stories of constituents who had been denied social housing for earning just €100 over the threshold.

“With inflation and the increasing household costs, people are really struggling and those who are just over the income limits should be brought into the net,” Cllr Seamus McGrath said.
“With inflation and the increasing household costs, people are really struggling and those who are just over the income limits should be brought into the net,” Cllr Seamus McGrath said.

“More and more people are being caught in the middle, unable to qualify for social housing and unable to qualify for a mortgage,” said councillor Gearoid Murphy. “Cases of this will only increase unless the income thresholds are increased in line with inflation.”

Fermoy councillor Deirdre O’Brien said that she knew of a single mother who had been on the waiting list for social housing but was told she no longer qualified after picking up extra hours at work, which led to a €40 increase in her salary per week.

“She’s been penalised when going for housing but at the same time, she doesn’t qualify for a loan. This girl is now living with her parents with no hope at all of ever getting out,” Ms O’Brien said.

An example of a nurse who had to work overtime during the pandemic and was taken off the list was also brought up.

“Every councillor has had people ask if they should cut their hours at work to qualify,” said Councillor Ben Dalton. “I had a couple come into me recently who asked me if they would be better off separating. That’s very sad.”

Councillor Sinead Sheppard added: “People are haemorrhaging money, it’s imperative that we do everything we can as a council to help.”

Councillors are also calling for regular reviews of the thresholds to start taking place and for the same threshold to be introduced for Cork city and county.

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