Wicklow Sinn Féin TD John Brady has described as incredulous that Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has sat on a report into Social Housing eligibility for almost a year, amidst one of if not the worst housing, and cost of living crisis that the state has endured.
The review into the income limits which families must meet to qualify for social housing was completed last November. Despite this, and despite the incredible hardship that ordinary families are labouring under, the Minister has failed to publish the findings of the review. Despite the fact that the current limits were put in place over a decade ago in 2011.
“Current Social Housing income thresholds are locking ordinary people out of the Housing Assistance Payments (HAP), or Social Housing. It is creating a nightmare situation for ordinary families who simply cannot afford to pay the punishing prices attached to house purchases and rent at the moment, but who yet find themselves locked out of qualification under current Social Housing income thresholds.
This is a particular problem for families in Wicklow, where due to proximity to Dublin we are forced to endure some of the worst rent and purchase prices for property in the whole country. And while the Minster has increased the threshold in five counties, Wicklow is not one of them.
Despite the fact that we are in the midst of the worst inflation crisis in more than a generation, Minister O’Brien has sat on this report for almost a year, despite the fact that the income thresholds currently in place were put in place in 2011, over a decade ago. Although a review was carried out in 2016, the thresholds in Wicklow have remained the same. With indications that this will be the case from the latest review.
County Wicklow remains in Band A, which places the maximum amount that individuals or families can earn to qualify for Housing Assistance Payments (HAP), or Social Housing is between €35,000 and €42, 000.
The question needs to be asked of Minister O’Brien, does he want to keep people off the housing list? Because there can be no other good reason to punish ordinary people here in Wicklow. It appears that this is a deliberate attempt to deny people the right to go on the councils housing list, that it is a ploy to keep the housing list numbers artificially low. People who find themselves marginally above these income thresholds simply can’t afford to rent privately or get a mortgage from any financial institution given the extortionate house prices.
I have families coming into my office on a regular basis, who are in desperate straits. Many of them have received a notice to quit their current rental property. But they don’t qualify for HAP, or Social Housing, being just outside the income limits. There is simply nothing there for them.
We need urgent housing supports here in Wicklow. Minister O’Brien needs to act, and act urgently. We cannot allow the current situation where ordinary Wicklow families are being forced to carry the cost of the Government’s failures to resolve the housing crisis.”