THE maximum net-income limits to qualify for social housing in Mayo is creating a ‘huge poverty trap’ that is in danger of causing a ‘major crisis’.
That is according to Cathaoirleach of the Castlebar Municipal District, Michael Kilcoyne, who made the comments at last Thursday morning’s Mayo County Council Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) meeting on housing.
The current income threshold for a single person to apply for social housing under the Social Housing Assessment Regulations, 2011, is €25,000 in Mayo.
Cllr Kilcoyne (Ind) stated that the limit needs to be addressed to avoid a ‘major crisis’.
“The limit [€25,000] is causing a huge poverty trap,” he said. “There are a huge number of people that fall just over that figure. Because of that, they can’t go on the housing list … What are we doing about it? There is a major crisis waiting to spill out onto our streets.”
Cllr Kilcoyne made the comments in light of figures released by Mayo County Council Head of Housing, Simon Shevlin, which indicate that there are currently 1,311 people on the housing list in Mayo, with a further 1,362 people on the transfer list.
It was also revealed that in 2019, Mayo County Council delivered 214 houses to the county, while 302 people were availing of the housing assistance payment (HAP) scheme and 29 of the rental accommodation scheme (RAS).
Cllr Kilcoyne’s concerns were echoed by Cllr Patsy O’Brien (FG).
“In reality the bar to qualify for social housing is totally inadequate,” he said. “It is up to the council to adapt it. Some counties have a €35,000 threshold. Most of the ones on the east coast too.
“I came across a young couple recently that were barely over that line. They can’t afford to rent right now, but don’t get support. People are being discriminated against if they are barely over €25,000.”
After it was suggested the Council seek to raise the limit, it was pointed out that the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy TD sets the maximum limits. According to the regulations, housing authorities may only lower the limit.
Tom Gilligan, Director of Services for Mayo County Council, highlighted that he was on Daft.ie recently and came across 1,500 houses for sale, but only 103 for rent in Mayo.
He said there is currently a ‘big issue’ around people trying to rent in the county.