The housing charity Threshold has expressed disappointment in the absence of a sufficient funding increase for homeless prevention services in order to stem the flow of families and individuals from rental accommodation into homelessness.
Commenting on Budget measures announced today CEO of Threshold, John-Mark McCafferty said: “Of the extra €20 million allocated to homeless services in today’s Budget, we at Threshold envisage that the majority of this will go directly into the pockets of hoteliers and private accommodation providers, and will do little to help keep people in their homes. While we welcome the extra €2 million allocated to the RTB to allow it to enforce Rent Pressure Zone regulations more efficiently, we are disappointed not to see measures to reduce rents for those struggling in the private rented sector.
“While the €80 million in additional funding for the HAP scheme is also welcome, just yesterday we saw that only 104 of the 907 three-bed properties advertised on daft.ie were below the HAP caps. There was a complete absence of three-bed properties within the HAP cap in Dublin, Waterford, Kilkenny, Westmeath, Laois and Carlow, a mere 12 between Kildare, Meath and Louth collectively and only four in Limerick. In light of the current HAP limits, where does the Government expect people to live?
“Ahead of the Budget the Taoiseach indicated that the government’s Help to Buy scheme needed to be modified, but no such change was announced today. The scheme in its current form does little for low to middle income earners who don’t get a look-in with regard to getting on the property ladder. Measures to address market affordability for all households are essential as income inadequacy measures such as the Help to Buy will not suffice
“Department of Housing figures earlier this month showed a further increase in family homelessness, with 1,726 families now homeless including 3,848 children. Our frontline services are working flat out to keep families in their homes as winter approaches”, continued McCafferty. “We badly need additional funding to help tenants challenge invalid notices of termination or rent reviews; take discrimination cases to the Workplace Relations Commission; challenge illegal evictions and represent tenants at the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB).
“This keeps thousands of families in their homes. In 2018, through our Tenancy Protection Service we kept 5,161 households in their homes, thus preventing 7,111 adults and 4,451 children from becoming homeless in the first place.
“The Government spent €147m on emergency accommodation in 2018, while spending just €9m on prevention. The Budget was an opportunity to redress that balance but sadly that has been missed – the thousands living in the precarious private rented sector will continue to struggle as a result of the limited measures introduced.”