– Housing charity responds to latest homeless figures released by Department of Housing –
Threshold, the national housing charity, has said today (03.11.16) that the latest figures showing that the number of homeless families has surpassed 1,000 for the first time, is a direct effect of the increasing pressures in the private rented sector.
Aideen Hayden, Chair of Threshold, said: “Threshold speaks to families around the country on a daily basis who are suffering from the impacts of the current housing crisis, mainly due to rapidly rising rents, difficulty finding accommodation and being forced to accept unsuitable housing. If these issues are not addressed, we will see the number of homeless families continue to rise.
“Threshold’s Tenancy Protection Service provides a targeted response and has been a key intervention in preventing homelessness since its introduction in 2014. Now operating in Dublin, Cork and Galway, last year the service prevented 8,550 people (including 4,483 children) from becoming homeless. This is proof of the success of the service and the real difference it is making to people’s lives across Ireland. Without it, the numbers of homeless families announced yesterday would be substantially higher.
“Earlier this year, we welcomed commitments by the Government to extend the Tenancy Protection Service nationwide by the end of the year – in light of these recent figures showing the surge in families who have lost their homes, we are calling on the Government to expedite the national roll-out of the TPS service in Ireland, as a matter of urgency. This extension will mean that Threshold will be able to more effectively support families at risk of homelessness in all parts of the country.
“The private rented sector is the most expensive and least secure form of housing in Ireland – families across Ireland are living in constant fear of losing their homes. For those living in the private rented accommodation, which now provides homes for one in five households in Ireland, they are always a matter of weeks away from homelessness if they fall on hard times.
“Budget 2017 introduced increased funding for homeless emergency accommodation, however the Government’s priority should be preventing families from becoming homeless in the first place. As a frontline service working with hundreds of households every week, we know from first-hand experience that in many cases, homelessness could have been prevented.
“Rent supplement limits were increased earlier this year by up to 29 per cent in some areas, bringing some welcome relief. However, due to a chronic lack of supply and high demand, rents continue to increase. We must ensure that a huge gap does not open up again to exclude rent supplement or Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) recipients from being able to remain in their home or secure alternative accommodation.
“As part of the public consultation process on the Strategy for the Rented Sector, Threshold will put forward a submission to the Minister next week, and as part of this we are calling for the immediate introduction of security of tenure measures to keep people in their homes indefinitely, as well as rent certainty measures to ensure that people do not face economic eviction.”
Threshold is also urging families nationwide to contact appropriate services before their housing problems worsen. Threshold operates an advice and advocacy service for people at risk in the private rented sector.
Aideen Hayden continued: “It’s critical that people make contact as soon as they start encountering housing problems and keeping up with their rent payments. Interventions become much more challenging as problems spiral, and that’s when people and families are at increased risk of homelessness”.
Threshold’s freephone helpline, 1800 454 454, can be contacted from 9.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Threshold wishes to acknowledge funding received from the Scheme to Support National Organisations 2016-2019 and the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.