Reintroduce measures proven to stop homelessness

Senator Rebecca Moynihan
27 May 2022
  • Pass Family Homeless Bill  
  • Review HAP limits
  • Allow local authorities to buy where tenant is in situ

Labour housing spokesperson Rebecca Moynihan has pleaded with government to introduce an immediate rent freeze to stop people living in the private rental market falling into homelessness. With staggering levels of homelessness reported today, Senator Moynihan called on government to take a compassionate approach and protect people against homelessness.

Senator Moynihan said:

“Behind every statistic is a human being, a life put on hold due to failure by the State to give them a fair chance. Government can’t keep putting it off – we need an immediate nationwide rent freeze to prevent any other person falling into homelessness.

“We know that the housing crisis is a supply crisis, but there are measures that government can take right now to ease the situation. At a time when rents have totally outstripped wages, we need to see this rent freeze reintroduced as Alan Kelly did in 2015.

“l have long called on government to revisit and revise the HAP scheme to take into account the cost of renting privately in 2022. The ESRI report published this week provides further evidence of the urgent need to do this to protect against homelessness. The HAP scheme helps keep a roof over people’s head, but it has not been updated to reflect the cost of renting in 2022.

“Indeed, we need to see local authorities empowered to buy houses where families are on HAP to ensure that they are protected from a potential sell up by the landlord. In 2017, Jan O’Sullivan published a bill to ensure that families at risk of homelessness are protected by the State, the Housing (Homeless Families) Bill. This would require local authorities to recognise the rights of a child in a family unit when applying for accommodation or other assistance. We need to see a move made on this to ensure every child in Ireland has a roof over their head.

“As Focus Ireland have pointed to, many people are entering homelessness due to landlords selling a property. This should not be an immediate grounds for eviction. I am once again calling on government to fast track Labour’s Renters’ Rights bill which would give renters greater security against eviction. We need to see the law changed without delay to stymy the number reaching homelessness as a result of this.

“Lastly, it is deeply concerning to see the number of single adults entering homelessness. For too long, the housing system has been set up for families but the reality is that about 400,000 people live on their own in Ireland. Government needs to ensure that its Housing for All plan has an adequate housing mix that reflects the make up of society, including social and affordable one bedroom apartments and houses.

“The figures published by the Department demand a response. Change can’t wait. We need to do everything we can to protect people from falling into homelessness. Government needs to stop seeing housing as a commodity. The choices that government makes, or chooses not to make, is having a huge impact on the lives of real people. The failure of government to put in place measures to protect renters are having enormous social consequences. We need to see action now.”

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