Increasing eligibility for the mortgage to rent scheme would end the “spiral of misery” for more than 2,000 Cork families, housing and homeless campaigner, Fr Peter McVerry has urged.
There are currently 1,200 'active' cases in the mortgage to rent process nationally and Fr McVerry wants to see the number increased significantly this year.
The scheme allows homeowners in mortgage difficulty to switch from owning their home to renting their home as social housing tenants.
More than 2,000 family home loans in Co Cork are in arrears for two years or more and 120 cases in the mortgage to rent process have either been completed or are being actively progressed.
“If the next government was serious about tackling this huge mortgage debt legacy from the past decade, it should make it illegal over the next three years to evict people without an offer of mortgage to rent," said Fr McVerry.
"However, the next government has to sit down and change the thresholds which limit the mortgage to rent scheme," said the priest, who is a member of the advisory board of mortgage to rent operator - Home for Life.
People must be lifted out of the stress and misery they were enduring, he said.
“It saddens me to think that every week there are thousands of home-dwellers living in needless fear of a knock on the door or a visit from the postman.”
Fr McVerry urged those who find themselves in such difficulty not to bury their heads in the sand.
“Instead, I would encourage them to engage with their local MABS' (Money Advice and Budgeting Service) people or their lender so that their cases can be dealt with."
MABS, the State's money advice service, has been helping people deal with problem debt for more than 20 years.
“If they do that, then they should be able to stay in their home if they pay rent like all local authority tenants."
Meanwhile, a newly formed coalition of organisations called Home for Good wants the next government to commit to a constitutional referendum on the right to decent, affordable and secure housing. They believe the protection of property rights need to be "rebalanced" in favour of the common good.
Members include the Simon Communities of Ireland, Focus Ireland, Respond and Threshold. It is also supported by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the public service trade union, Forsa, and the Union of Students in Ireland.