Housing charity appeals to public to support Christmas fundraising drive to help save vulnerable tenants from homelessness
Nearly 300 tenants contacted national housing charity Threshold in November in fear of losing their homes after receiving a notice of termination from their landlord – the highest monthly figure to date this year. November also proved the busiest overall for the organisation, which took 7,639 calls last month – a 29 per cent increase on the October figure.
Threshold chief executive, John-Mark McCafferty said that November was the busiest month for the National Tenancy Protection Helpline since its launch in May. Appealing to the public to support Threshold’s Christmas fundraising drive, he said that Threshold provides a vital free and confidential service to individuals and families in crisis.
He said: “Threshold saves an average of five families a day from homelessness. Ireland is in the grip of a cruel and relentless national housing crisis and no other organisation tackles homelessness the way Threshold does – by keeping people in their homes. This is by far the most effective way to prevent homelessness. We are concerned about the November figures, which reflect the huge increase in families facing sudden rent increases and illegal evictions over the year. Last December we dealt with 151 clients who had received a tenancy termination, and if this trend continues, we expect that figure to be much higher for 2017. No one should underestimate the terror and panic people in danger of losing their homes experience and Threshold works to help those people stay in their homes.
“Threshold is the only organisation in the country that provides free, confidential and expert housing advice to families and individuals at risk of homelessness, that challenges unreasonable rent increases and illegal evictions, and that negotiates additional rent supplement payments with the Department of Social Protection, where needed, to keep people in their homes. We also campaign to influence Government policy to make the private rented sector a secure place to create a home. Nearly a third of Threshold’s income is derived from donations from the public and the Christmas appeal is the most important fundraiser of the year. We are asking everyone who is in a position to help, to give the gift of peace of mind to vulnerable families by helping them to stay in their homes.”
Threshold chair, Dr Aideen Hayden said: “Ireland’s housing crisis is down to poor planning and it will not be solved through short-term measures alone. Threshold’s helpline responds to 76 calls a day from families in crisis – if we are to address homelessness effectively, greater emphasis and resources need to be placed in tackling the causes of homelessness. Most of these stem from the State’s overreliance on the Private Rented Sector and the problems within the sector regarding high and growing rent levels and increasing unaffordability; lack of security of tenure; and physical issues with rented properties such as standards, repairs, fire safety and energy efficiency. We are calling on the Government to urgently address these issues.
She added: “We are also conscious of the recent Daft.ie figures, which show that rents for some properties close to the new Luas cross-city stops in Dublin have increased by more than a fifth over the last year. This is deeply worrying for tenants in those areas and indicates that the Rent Pressure Zone (RPZ) cap of 4 per cent increase is not being adhered to. This shows the need for RPZ legislation to be properly enforced and strengthened to make sure that it protects new renters entering the market.”
Last year, Threshold’s emergency on-call service received 40 calls over the Christmas period and the housing charity will again this year provide this service over the Christmas period for individuals and households at risk of homelessness. Information will be available on the Threshold website www.threshold.ie, on social media, and by phoning the 1800 454 454 helpline.
Anyone wishing to donate to Threshold’s ‘Save 5 families a Day Christmas Appeal’ can do so via the Threshold website, www.threshold.ie, or by phoning LoCall 1890 43 44 45.