Threshold, the national housing charity, has strongly criticised this year’s budget for failing to introduce rent certainty measures to help address the current homelessness crisis.
Commenting today (13.10.15), Senator Aideen Hayden, Chair of Threshold said: “Today’s budget did not contain promised housing measures that Threshold had called for in its pre-budget submission. While we understand that talks are ongoing between the Department of the Environment and Department of Finance, we are very concerned that without the immediate introduction of rent certainty measures, an additional 700 families may become homeless between now and Christmas due to excessive rent increases.
“We welcome the increased funding for homeless services. However the Government’s priority should be preventing families from becoming homeless in the first place. It is deeply frustrating for frontline services like Threshold to see families falling into homelessness when it can be prevented.
“This budget is a missed opportunity for low-income tenants. A minimum wage increase of 50c an hour will have little effect on renters facing monthly rent increases of up to €200 to €300. It is vital that the Government introduces rent certainty measures sooner rather than later in order to make a real difference to the lives of families facing the prospect of homelessness.
“Families struggling to pay their rent simply can’t wait another two to three years for the Government’s proposals to increase housing supply to take effect. Homeless figures will have doubled by then. The only solution in the short term is to introduce rent certainty measures in conjunction with increased rent supplement payments.
“The issue isn’t about whether to intervene in the market, we already do this on a number of levels. We need to ensure that the market works to ensure that families can rent their homes without the fear of becoming homeless.
“At a time when inflation is running at less than one percent, it is simply unacceptable that landlords should be allowed to increase rents by whatever figure they wish. It must be remembered that rents are now more expensive than most mortgages and they are back to levels they were at the height of the boom.
“The private rented sector has more than doubled in size in recent years and now provides housing for one in five families. Those who have chosen to rent, or who have been forced into the private rented sector because they have no other option, simply cannot afford rent increases that far exceed any rise in their incomes. It is also becoming impossible for families paying high rents to save for their own homes.”
Bob Jordan, Chief Executive of Threshold, said: “Threshold has shown that the most effective way to prevent homelessness is to keep families in their existing homes. In the last twelve months alone, Threshold prevented nearly 3,000 people from becoming homeless by secured enhanced rent supplement payments and this has been lauded by Government. Introducing rent certainty measures in conjunction with raising rent supplement payments for all tenants will address any risk that landlords will just increase rents to match increased rent supplement levels.
“This Government must do everything in its power to prevent homelessness and we call on it to introduce measures in the coming days to address the desperate situation faced by families renting their homes.”