Applicants for social housing in Cork county are being discriminated against compared to home-seekers in Cork City, due to different income caps applied by central Government.
County councillors are seeking the removal of an anomaly which allows those living in the city a maximum income threshold of €35,000 for a single person, seeking a council-provided home, which is €5,000 more than an applicant living in the county.
Fine Gael councillor Anthony Barry said the irregularity will become more pronounced when the city council’s new boundary is extended to include current county towns Glanmire and Blarney.
The Government has approved rent capping in the Cobh-Glanmire municipal district. When Glanmire is incorporated into the city next year, its social housing applicants will benefit from the extra €5,000 earnings cap. However, the increased income allowance will not apply to Cobh or Carrigtwohill, where the cost of housing and rents are equally high.
The rent pressure zone has also been applied to the Ballincollig/Carrigaline municipal district. However, it was not applied to the Kinsale/Bandon municipal district, which covers part of Carrigaline, meaning some people living on the southern side of Carrigaline town are not subject to a rent cap.
When Ballincollig moves into the city, meanwhile, the social housing earnings cap will come into line with the city but the €5,000 threshold increase will not apply to people living in Carrigaline, even though the costs of renting and buying houses are almost identical in both areas.
Mr Barry, on behalf of members of the Cobh-Glanmire municipal district, called for the city social housing earnings cap to be applied to all rent pressure zones within the county.
After being debated at a meeting in County Hall yesterday, Mr Barry’s proposal secured widespread support from the chamber.
He said the Government had recognised the high cost of housing in some areas but not in others, whether purchasing or renting.
Fine Gael councillor Sinead Sheppard said rents in Cobh were in the range of €1,300-€1,500 per month and the cost of buying a house was as expensive as anywhere in the city.
Fianna Fáil councillor Mary Rose Desmond said she is dealing with a family in Carrigaline who will lose their house as they did not qualify for the rent capping in their area.
She said the difference between city and county income thresholds for social housing “made no sense whatsoever”.
The gap is way too big between the [social housing] income thresholds in the city and the county,” she said.
Her party colleague, Seamus McGrath, said people were caught in a limbo as they could not qualify under the social housing income threshold but did not have enough to afford a mortgage.
Bandon-based Sinn Féin councillor Rachel McCarthy said rent pressure zones should be extended to all the county while Fianna Fáil councillor Christopher O’Sullivan said rents in his hometown of Clonakilty were also huge.
I’m very disappointed at the Government’s snail pace on helping renters,” said Independent councillor Noel Collins.
Mr Barry agreed to an amendment to his motion asking the Government to provide a €35,000 income threshold to all of Co Cork.