Mayor of Athlone, John Dolan, has called for the revision of income limits in the criteria for social housing applications.
Mayor Dolan says the current cut-off point of €25,000 is rendering many people in need of social housing ineligible. He said there are people who are working but are unable to afford to buy a home for themselves. The reality, he said, is that these people could possibly be better off being unemployed and in receipt of social welfare in terms of accessing housing, and that this is the wrong message to be sending out to the public.
Mayor Dolan added that these very people are making their own contribution towards the running of the country via taxation, but are not getting their fair dues in return. He said there should be an annual review of the criteria for social housing applications, and called on the council to open correspondence with the Department on the issue.
Fianna Fáil councillor Frankie Keena noted that 2011 was the last time this issue was reviewed and supported the call for a re-examination of criteria. He said some hard-working people find themselves earning slightly above the cut-off point, making them ineligible. This, he said, is not right.
His party colleague Aengus O’Rourke said the discussion is highly relevant due to the current housing crisis Ireland is experiencing, particularly the explosion in the cost of renting. He said the 2011 guidelines do not in any way reflect what is happening in the country today.
Independent councillor Michael O’Brien said many people his age have no hope of being able to buy a home. He said everybody aspires to put a roof over the heads of themselves and their families, but that the current crisis is making it impossible to do so.
It was resolved that a letter will be sent to the Department on the issue.