herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

Increase rent supplement to keep people in homes, says charity that’s helped 3,000

A NEW service helped almost 3,000 people in rented accommodation to remain in their homes in Dublin in the past year.

The national housing charity, Threshold, stated its Dublin Tenancy Protection Service (TPS) achieved remarkable success in assisting tenants facing housing difficulties and homelessness.

A new report published by the charity calls for the extension of the service to other towns outside Dublin and Cork; rent certainty measures to moderate and stabilise rent increases, and an urgent increase in rent supplement limits to match market rents.

Senator Aideen Hayden, chairwoman of Threshold, said the service provides a fast-track avenue for tenants to have their rent supplement increased above current rent limits to reflect increases in rent.

“The shortage of affordable accommodation in the private rented sector and growing demand is now one of the leading causes of homelessness,” she said.

Supplement

“The most effective way to prevent homelessness is to keep families in their existing homes, through increasing their rent supplement payment to match market rents,” she said.

The additional annual cost of providing 744 households with an increased rent supplement payment to prevent them from becoming homeless was €0.8m.

By comparison, €1.6m was spent on providing emergency hotel accommodation for 361 homeless families in the Dublin region in July 2015 alone.

“The report highlights that tenants approved for the service are facing significantly above-average rent increases, with the majority experiencing rent hikes between 11pc and 30pc. 

In addition, four out of five tenancies secured by the service needed an increase in rent supplement payment above the current limit” she said.

Homelessness in Dublin doubled over the first 12 months of the Dublin service’s operation.

Fionnughla McLoughlin, manager of the new service, said: “Ireland is facing an unprecedented homelessness crisis.

“We have helped almost 900 tenant households to remain in their homes. Without this vital service, the number of homeless families in Dublin would be significantly higher and the homelessness crisis would be almost unmanageable.”

The freephone helpline for the service is 1800 454 454.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly welcomed the achievements of the new service and said it will be extended to other urban centres.

The Government is committed to a housing-led approach to end involuntary long-term homelessness by the end of 2016, he said.

The 2015 allocation for homelessness funding amounts to €55.5m and represents an increase of 20pc on last year.

The provision of additional emergency beds, prioritised social housing allocations for those homeless and other vulnerable groups and the bringing of empty or void council homes back into use are all planned, he said.

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