Decline in rental housing available for HAP beneficiaries

According to Simon Communities of Ireland, only 11% of rental accommodation available in December accepted the housing assistance payment.

Simon’s latest ‘Locked Out’ report shows that while the number of properties on the rental market has increased, there has been a drop in availability on the HAP scheme.

Of 1,349 properties available for rent in December in 16 areas, including major cities, only 148 or 11% were in HAP categories.

This is a 22% drop from the number available in October 2021 and “drastically 83% less than the 906 available in June 2021”.

Simon Communities of Ireland policy and communications manager Wayne Stanley said the organization looked at HAP in the report because it is a way for many people to exit homelessness.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said: “When you look at homelessness, you look at the fact that if you want to solve this problem, first you have to stop people coming and support people, and the HAP is a mechanism for people who need housing and have low incomes.”

The drop to 148 properties available to people on HAP is incredibly worrying, Mr Stanley said, as it further shows that the affordability crisis in the country’s housing system is “really, really acute”.

The housing shortage often leads to discrimination against people on HAP, he said, as if there were only 148 properties, with none reserved for people on HAP.

Mr Stanley said the HAP is a mechanism for people to help pay their rent, but it really needs to be looked at in terms of availability.

He added that local authorities outside the Dublin region need more discretion over payment and payment should be increased.

He said that while this is a significant sum of money paid to people, it is not enough to offset the high rental costs in the market.

If the HAP payment increased, it would only “catch up” with “unaffordable rents”, he said.

“But if we don’t, we are placing the burden of those rents on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society,” he added.

Separately, Threshold said it prevented nearly 2,000 adults and children from becoming homeless in the last quarter of 2021.

The national housing charity said the figure represented a 16% increase on the same period the previous year.

In October, November and December, Threshold said it prevented 905 households across the country from entering homelessness, including 1,250 adults and 735 children.

The housing charity said its advisers challenged invalid termination notices, invalid rent increases and helped clients resolve rent arrears.

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