Lack of social housing at root of continued rising rent and housing shortages

General News

THE further rent increases shown in this latest report from Daft reinforce our concern about the inadequacy of the Housing Assistance Payment as a means of supporting those seeking increasingly expensive and scarce rental accommodation, according to the housing charity Threshold.

 Speaking after the Daft report showed an 8.3% increase in listed rents nationally the Chief Executive of Threshold John-Mark McCafferty said:  “While there is some welcome increase in supply this is either at the upper end of the market or is aimed at mass sharing of accommodation.  The  recent surge in planning applications for more than 6,000 residential properties will not lead to an increased supply of housing for families and individuals in receipt of Housing Assistance Payments, minimum wage workers or pensioners struggling to survive on meagre pensions.

“The main problem is the one we have pointed to repeatedly.  There is simply not enough social housing being built.  Even where social housing is being supplied it is mostly three and four bedroom units which does little to address the needs of single people who are particularly at risk of homelessness.”

He noted that property investors including REITS were now funding purpose built apartment schemes.  “Purpose built schemes certainly have their place in various segments of the market.  The REITs tend to be aimed at the upper end of the market and while this increases supply, it does nothing in the short-term for those seeking average priced accommodation. The Government should re-examine their tax incentives for institutional investors to make it most attractive to develop for the lower end of the market where the immediate crisis lies.  There is an urgent need for affordable rented accommodation to be built along the lines of the Vienna model which has been the subject of much discussion in Ireland recently.”

 Day to day, week to week and year in year out, we are dealing with increasing number of tenants in receipt of HAP who cannot source affordable housing as HAP caps fall well below market rents. In our recent survey in relation to HAP, we found that 20% of those in receipt of HAP were paying more than 30% of their net incomes on rent top ups, despite being in receipt of HAP”, according to Threshold CEO John-Mark McCafferty. “In 10% of cases, households were paying more than 40% of their net income on rent top-ups.”

According to Threshold chairperson Aideen Hayden: “Since the publication of the government’s plan ‘Rebuilding Ireland – an action for housing and homelessness’ almost three years ago, we have witnessed an increasing number of homelessness. But where are the commitments to develop key worker housing, where are the commitments to accelerated social housing? We must acknowledge that a serious number of those families at risk in the rented sector would have been living in social homes in different times. The system has clearly failed.  We must decide whether, in fact, this issue is important enough to us as a society.  Do we want people to have secure and affordable homes or do we not? If we do, we must step back to reflect on our long-term plans to protect future generations renting and we must act to correct it.”

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