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Dublin: 9 °C Sunday 7 June, 2020

Housing 'passport' scheme could give those on city housing lists the option to move to rural Ireland

A review of the income eligibility limits for social housing supports has commenced.

Image: Shutterstock/Honey Cloverz

RELOCATING PEOPLE WHO can’t find a house in Dublin and other overpopulated areas to the countryside could be one of the measures used to ease the housing crisis.

The Housing Department said such a scheme, commonly referred to as a “Housing Passport” scheme, could make a contribution to rural rejuvenation whilst allowing families greater choice in where they would like to be housed when assisted by the State.

This might be an option to someone who moved to Dublin a few years ago, but who perhaps lost their job, or whose marriage broke up, and might consider moving back home to their home county in the countryside, said one government source.

The idea is that a person’s place on the social housing list would be transferred seamlessly.

Review of social housing rules 

As part of the broader social housing reform agenda, a review of the income eligibility limits for social housing supports has commenced.

The results of the review should be available for publication in the first half of 2018.

At present the fact that the level of qualifying income for social housing varies across the country and has the potential to act as a barrier to relocation of households on the social housing waiting lists.

The review will look at the issue of whether or not different limits should continue to apply in different parts of the country. The income eligibility review will examine the feasibility of putting in place a formal mechanism that will allow those qualified for social housing support to move more freely around the country.

The Housing Department said the “Housing Passport” scheme could offer more choice to those on social housing waiting lists who might be interested in moving to another county.

It could also aid the government’s rural rejuvenation programme and towns that have been under populated in recent years, but that still have a wide array of services available such as schools, jobs and houses.

The town of Kiltyclogher in Leitrim is one of the towns where locals are calling for people who are sick of the hustle and bustle of city life to come and live with them.

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The school in Kiltyclogher, population 233, had just 14 pupils registered for the coming school year, meaning that it would have to close unless another family with a child moved to the area.

To try to save the two-teacher school, locals banded together to try to attract people to come and live in the town, which sits close to the Fermanagh border.

Rural resettlement 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said there is a space for rural resettlement.

“It’s eminently logical that parts of the country where there’s been rural depopulation, where there are properties available, where there are places in schools, where there are services available, I can certainly see a place for a rural resettlement scheme,” he said, adding:

But I think it would only be a small part of the solution because ultimately as people leave the cities and move to a very rural area, they are often breaking their connections with their family and their neighbours and the people that they know. That’s not always an easy thing to do.

So certainly I think there’s room for it. Obviously, it would have to be voluntary and maybe part of the solution, but I don’t think it’s going to be a major part of it.

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