Only 41 properties were available to rent under the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme in the previous month, according to a new survey from Simon Communities.
The HAP scheme is a monthly payment from the State to assist lower-income households.
The Simon Communities Locked Out of the Market’s December report, which looks at 16 different regions across the nation, found that the number of 41 was a 17% increase from the 35 available in September 2022.
Only one property was available for rent at a standard HAP rate, while 40 of these fell within the discretionary HAP limits. Suitable for singles or couples, this Kildare apartment had one bedroom.
Under HAP, a tenant’s main rent is paid directly to a landlord, with the tenant paying a differential rent to their local council. The tenants must cover their own deposit, and no rent is paid by the council in advance of them entering the home.
The report also found that the number of properties available to rent increased for the first time in two years.
Over the three survey dates, there were 757 homes in the 16 study areas that were rentable at any price.
This is an increase of 93.1% from the previous report (392), but it still reflects a decrease of 43.8% from the 1,349 properties that were available in December 2021.
As seen in many recent Locked Out of the Market reports, the properties within HAP limits were predominantly available in Dublin.
24 (58.5%) were found in the three Dublin areas examined (Dublin city centre, Dublin city north and Dublin city south).
In Dublin, the discretionary rate allows up to an additional 50% on the standard rate; this is 35% elsewhere in the country.
11 of the 16 study areas had no properties available to rent in any household category within standard or discretionary HAP limits. These were Athlone, Cork city centre, Cork city suburbs, Galway city suburbs, Galway city centre, Co Leitrim, Limerick city suburbs, Limerick city centre, Sligo town, Portlaoise, and Waterford city centre.
11 properties were identified in the report as being within the discretionary HAP rates for both singles and couples. For families with one child, another 23 properties were available under discretionary limits. Under the discretionary HAP rate, 30 homes were available for two-children families, 23 of which overlap with homes for families with just one child.
“Our most recent report sees a small increase in the number of properties available for those on HAP. There were 35 in the last report and now 41. While any improvement in the context of the current crisis is welcome, it is sadly not possible to call this an improving situation,” Wayne Stanley, executive director at the Simon Communities of Ireland, said.
“The frontline experience of the Simon Communities working across Ireland, supporting people to move on from homelessness, reflects this,” Stanley said.
“41 properties available in the context of 11,542 people seeking to exit homelessness is a chronic situation that requires an emergency response,” he added.
Stanley said the Government has “taken the important and welcome step of bringing in the moratorium on evictions”.
“Actions taken while this moratorium is in place will go a long way and what we need to see is momentum on the provision of secure affordable accommodation to those in homelessness throughout 2023,” he said.
“In the short term, we need to look at the allocation of current local authority housing. If we are to ensure secure affordable homes are in place to address the homelessness crisis, we need to see the full potential in modular build, in vacancy and dealing with dereliction delivered on and brought into the public housing system.”