PEOPLE in Clare are at a “huge disadvantage” when it comes to availing of social housing support.
That is the view of the chairman of Social Development SPC, Shannon-based councillor, Gerry Flynn (IND) who has raised his concerns over the so called ‘squeezed middle’.
According to Cllr Flynn, a significant amount of people in employment are currently caught in a situation where they can be earning above the limits for social housing support but not enough to raise a mortgage.
The maximum income limit in Clare is €25,000 per annum, one of the lowest in the country, while in Limerick, which the Miltown Malbay native said is “only across the river”, those earning below €35,000 can apply for social housing support.
With significant changes in the housing in market since current limits for social housing support were introduced in 2011, the chairman of Social Development SPC is calling on Clare to be moved into one of the higher income bands.
“It’s putting Clare applicants at a huge disadvantage,” added Mr Flynn. “There are huge anomalies there.”
Backing the suggestion, Councillor PJ Ryan said that “something seriously needs to be seriously done about it”.
“Because if we don’t we are going to have more homeless people,” he said.
In response, Clare County Council revealed that local authorities do not have any discretion with regard to the income limits set for of social housing support in each county.
The local authority also made reference the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan Scheme, which is set to support the so-called ‘squeezed middle’ in attaining a mortgage.
The scheme offers fixed interest rate mortgages to credit worthy low to middle income first time buyers with a view to making home ownership more affordable.
Single people earning under €50,000 per annum are eligible for the scheme or in the case of a joint application incomes cannot exceed €75,000.
In regards to social housing support, there are currently three income bands and despite the significant change in the housing market in recent years income limits have remained static.
According to the local council, the Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, TD (FG) has the power to amend the regulations and increase the income limits.