30% year on year increase in homelessness – private rental market protections needed

24 June 2022

Labour housing spokesperson said the 30% increase in homelessness in the past year is deeply concerning. Calling for the implementation of an emergency eviction ban and a rent freeze, Senator Moynihan said every step must be taken to stop people entering homelessness from the private rental market.

Senator Moynihan said:

“The lack of affordable homes to rent has been well documented. Right now, there are a number of counties without homes available for people availing of the HAP scheme. With only 820 properties available for those using HAP, it’s clear that emergency measures must be introduced to provide a safety net for those at risk of homelessness.

“Labour is calling for the implementation of an emergency eviction ban. The positive impact of the eviction ban was borne to life during the pandemic when the number of people presenting into homelessness fell dramatically. This temporary measure would put renters at ease that they will not be kicked out of their homes.

“This measure must be coupled with a rent freeze. Rent freezes are constitutionally possible, and this temporary emergency measure would help stem the crisis as more affordable homes come into supply.

“Earlier this month, government announced revised HAP scheme payments, however research carried out by my office shows the payments will not go far enough for many. There are just 820 homes in Ireland suitable for families receiving HAP, and just 182 properties for single people. It is clear, that despite the increase in the discretionary rate that the HAP system has collapsed, and moving from direct build social housing to HAP has been a disaster for those at the bottom of the housing market, driving these people into homelessness.

“Long-term, we need much more social housing built at scale, but short-term we need to revise the basic HAP limits as they are clearly not reflecting the outrageous rents charged. In particular, single people are really struggling to find accommodation, which is being reflected in our homeless figures.

“Targeted measures are urgently needed to protect renters. Inflation will lock many renters into a poverty trap. Coupled with Ireland’s low pay culture, there is no doubt that more and more people in the private rental market will become at risk of homelessness unless inflation busting measures are implemented to protect them.”

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