Wednesday, 24 November 2021
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Richard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
I have lost count of how many times I have raised the issue of reviewing the income thresholds for eligibility for social housing over the last four or five years. Whether it is the last Government or this Government, the stock response is that “it is under review” or “the review will be completed shortly”, and we have been told that for four or five years now. Of course, the result, let us be clear, is that thousands of people every year who go over the income threshold, who do not have the income to pay for the massively inflated rents and house prices, are thrown off the list and cannot afford to get anything through their own resources. The failure of successive Governments, including the Taoiseach's, to address this has reached absolutely unbelievable, incredible proportions.
This is an email I got this Monday:
I just received this email from [a local authority - we can guess which one] requesting that I move out of homeless accommodation that I am in. There is weeks to Christmas and that is what I have just received. I'm so upset and stressed by this now. How can they make me homeless from homeless accommodation?
That is the second case I have been dealing with. I brought one other to the attention of the Minister and he is looking into it, in fairness, but this is an unbelievable situation. The woman in question is the mother of a young child. She is a care worker, working, actually, in a State agency where they desperately need people to work because they are chronically understaffed but, because she did additional work for this chronically understaffed State agency working with vulnerable children, she is now off the housing list.
The letter from the local authority is brilliant:
Dear [I will not mention her name]
I am contacting you in relation to your temporary agency homeless placement at [I will delete the reference]. Homeless services have been made aware by housing allocations that you do not qualify for social housing support as your application has been deemed over the income limit. You must make arrangements to move on from emergency accommodation with your own resources.
This is just beyond belief. People are now not just homeless; they are punished for working and trying to improve their situation and get themselves out of that situation, but where they still clearly do not have their own resources to pay the rents - which in my area are an average of €24,000 to €26,000 a year of after-tax income - they are out of homeless accommodation in the teeth of Christmas. This is happening around the country. It is partially worsened by a change in the calculation method by the statutory instrument in March of this year, which based it on average income of the previous year, but also because of the failure to lift the income threshold. What is the Taoiseach going to do about this?