Government confirms €5,000 increase in income eligibility for social housing

The government has decided to raise the income restrictions for social housing by €5,000.

A total of 16,000 households could be qualified to apply for social housing beginning on January 1st, 2023, according to the Irish Examiner.

The increase has broadened the base of households eligible for social housing support, according to Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell, who welcomed the news.

“This is something I have campaigned on consistently since last February and I’m very pleased that these changed thresholds will assist those households requiring critically urgent supports, but who otherwise would not be eligible to secure them.”

Speaking on the outdated system, Focus Ireland’s director of advocacy Mike Allen, said that families on “very modest incomes” are now more likely to find themselves homeless yet ineligible for social housing support under the current system.

“The failure to review the income thresholds for access to social housing since 2011 (except for minor changes) demonstrates the same neglect of basic good practice which we also see in the failure to review the maximum rent levels payable under HAP and Rent Supplement,” he said.

Although the thresholds were raised in Carlow, Clare, Galway County, Laois, and Westmeath last month, Deputy O’Donnell noted that they had generally remained unchanged since 2011, despite the fact that “rental accommodation costs have increased significantly nationwide.”

He gives the example of the standardised average rent in new tenancies increasing 54 percent from €921 in 2016 to €1,415 in 2021, while the average annual real household disposable income increased only 21 percent over the same period, rising from €38,540 to €46,471.

“Of our 31 local authorities around Ireland, just seven offer rental accommodation to an adult earning under the income threshold at a cost of less than 35 percent of their income,” Deputy O’Donnell said.

This indicates that, in 24 local authority areas, anyone looking to rent a social housing property spends more than 35% of their income on rent.

“I’m very pleased that approval has been given to roll this increase out from January 1st next year – a few short weeks away. I know the very real positive difference this move will make,” Deputy O’Donnell added.

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