Family home lost every day, says Focus
Homeless charity urges rise in rent supplement
At least one family a day lost their home in Dublin so far in 2014 according to Focus Ireland, which said it is aware of 39 families who became homeless in the capital in July alone.
In a submission to the Department of Social Protection’s Review of Rent Supplement Levels the charity for the homeless called for rent supplement payments to match “real rent levels”.
The charity said the homelessness crisis is continuing to deepen; and it called for rent supplement caps to be raised to combat the increase in the number of families losing their homes.
Director of advocacy with Focus Ireland Mike Allen said many of the 39 families who became homeless last month had lost their homes “because the rent supplement doesn’t cover the rent”. He said that, as a result many families were being forced to pay the balance between the portion of the rent covered by the supplement and the rent.
“Paying this top-up month on month is clearly not sustainable and it just pushes families deeper into debt and nearer to homelessness,” he said.
Rent review Mr Allen said the Government’s rent review process should result in “a fair rent level based on real average rents in an area” as the current situation where rent levels are based on the cheapest third of the market was “fatally flawed”.
“Essentially the Government is trying to push the 30 per cent of households who rely on rent supplement into the bottom third of the rental market.
“Many of these homes are already rented to people on low wages or students, so the numbers just don’t add up,” he said.
“It is exactly this kind of wrongheaded policy that forces individuals and families to top up and causes homelessness.”
Rent regulation The charity also called for increased rent regulation by keeping rents in line with inflation, which it said would provide greater security for tenants.
Current rent supplement caps for Dublin city stand at €975 for a couple or single person with two children, while a couple or one-parent family with three children are allocated up to €1,000 under the State’s rent supplement scheme.
Rents in Dublin city rose 14 per cent in the first quarter of 2014, when the average cost of a two-bedroom rental property ranged from a low of €986 in Dublin 10 to €1,668 in Dublin 4, according to a snapshot of rental prices compiled by Daft.ie.
The number of available rental properties in the capital has been on a downward trend since mid-2009.