COUNCILLORS have called on minister for housing Eoghan Murphy to urgently address the pay gap between the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and rents currently charged in Carlow.
Cllr John Cassin put forward a notice of motion at the February meeting of the local authority calling on the minister to tackle the issue, which has left people homeless or caught in overcrowded or unsuitable accommodation.
“The cost of rent in Carlow town is so high that people can no longer afford to rent,” said cllr Cassin. “Families can’t afford to rent on their own. People who are above the threshold to be on the housing list simply can’t meet the €800 or €900 needed for rent,” he added.
Cllr Cassin urged councillors to write to the government to call for action on the matter as quickly as possible.
The motion was universally backed by fellow members, with cllr Michael Doran pointing out the problem was caused by a “lack of housing for rent”.
“I would support John on this matter, people are caught in a catch 22 situation … your heart would go out to them, they know they have no hope of saving for a mortgage,” said cllr Paton.
Housing officer Michael Brennan pointed out that the average price of rent in Carlow was now €906 a month. He stated that HAP was based on family size and income, but indicated that a 20% discretionary funding was available to people in some cases. In the case of a three-bed house, the HAP figure is €629 and a four-bed house is €937.