Wednesday, September 30, 2020

BY MAJELLA LOFTUS

The plight of Mayo people on lower incomes who do not qualify for either social housing or mortgages has been highlighted.

Speaking at a meeting of Mayo County Council’s Housing Strategic Policy Committee, councillor Michael Kilcoyne said there is now a ‘new poor’ in Mayo.

“If a couple is earning €26,000 per year, they are too wealthy to avail of local authority housing or assistance but they are too poor to get a mortgage,” he said.

“This means there is a whole cohort of people who are earning €30,000, which is less than €600 per week, who cannot get a mortgage from either a bank or the local authority. These people are now depending on their families to assist them.”

Cllr Christy Hyland said there are those who go out to work each week, earning €500 per week, who do not qualify for social housing, a mortgage, medical card, or children’s grant for school and are “getting hammered”. He said the income limits were set by the department and this was a blanket rule across the country that did not make sense because houses in Galway, for example, are much more expensive than in Westport.

Cllr Hyland said as people are losing their employment and cannot pay their mortgage due to Covid-19, “more and more people are coming to Mayo County Council’s housing department”. He questioned if demand will continue to increase given that there are now 2,700 people or families on the waiting list compared to 2,600 last year.

Cllr Michael Kilcoyne

Cllr Kilcoyne said he was aware of people who were employed and receiving the Covid payment through their employers.

“I have come across people who were approved for mortgages last February but are now being refused that mortgage because part of their wages comes from the Covid scheme.

“The banks are messing with us the same as they did previously,” he said. “The reality is, no one knows how many people really need housing. We know who is on the income limit but no one is making a list of all the rest.”

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