FOLLOWING Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s response to a parliamentary question from Limerick TD Maurice Quinlivan on Tuesday, the Sinn Féin Deputy stated that the Taoiseach “failed to commit to a review of income thresholds for social housing eligibility in Limerick”.
Deputy Quinlivan made the comments following Dáil questions on the topic of income limits.
He said on Tuesday: “I raised the issue of income limits for social housing support with the Taoiseach today and the answer I received was underwhelming. There seems to be no sense of urgency from either the Taoiseach or the Minister for Housing on this issue. This is galling for many working people in Limerick.
“I asked him if the cabinet would be discussing the Income threshold for Social Housing supports, which haven’t been changed since 2011 and I raised with him why the thresholds were changed in counties Clare, Carlow, Laois, Galway and Westmeath but were not increased in areas with acute affordability issues such as Dublin, Cork and my own county, Limerick.”
Deputy Quinlivan added: “Limerick is being severely affected by the housing crisis. For renters, there is a scarcity of properties to rent and those properties that are available are at such a high monthly rent that for many they are not affordable. Those looking to purchase a house in many cases are unable to do so. They struggle to save a deposit while paying rent. A generation has been squeezed, unable to afford rent and unable to afford to buy a home. The safety net should be to avail of social housing support but the income thresholds for such support are unrealistically small.“
Limerick falls within Band 2 of the social housing thresholds. Band 2 allows for a single person to be eligible for social housing assistance if they earn a net income of €30,000 or less. The income limit increases to €36,000 for a three adult and four child family.
Deputy Quinlivan continued: “Families are falling between the proverbial rock and a hard place. If they are earning over €30,000 to €36,000 (with children) they are not eligible to avail of social housing, but they earn too little to afford to rent or purchase their own home.
“A review of these thresholds was presented to the Minister for Housing in December last year and yet nine months later remain unpublished. These thresholds have been unchanged since 2011 and many people in need are being excluded from social housing support due to these unrealistically small thresholds.”
Concluding his remarks, the Limerick Deputy added: “We need a sense of urgency from the Taoiseach and his Minister. People are in a desperate plight unable to afford either to rent or own a home. We need to see these thresholds increased as a priority.”