Eoghan Murphy’s claim of social housing list drop ‘misleading’

Eoin Ó Broin of Sinn Féin disputes claim number of households in need fell 14,000

Speaking at a Solidarity party press conference, Take Back the City spokesperson Oisín Coulter and Peter McVerry call on the Government to build public housing on public land.

 

The number of households counted as being in need of social housing support fell almost 14,000 in the past year, according to data published by Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy on Wednesday.

However, the figures were described as “misleading” by Sinn Féin spokesman on housing Eoin Ó Broin, who said the reduction was almost wholly cancelled out when the number of tenancies created through the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) tenancy were considered.

A household is deemed to have been “housed” once they are placed in a HAP tenancy. If they were already on the central housing waiting list and on rent supplement, they are removed from it. They can apply to the housing transfer list, but this is not included in the central list.

So far this year, some 13,355 tenancies supported through HAP have been set up, according to department figures cited by Mr Ó Broin.

The department’s annual summary of Social Housing Assessments shows some 71,858 households have been assessed in June this year as “qualified and being in need of a social housing support”.

Public dismay over the number of homeless families and a shortage of affordable housing has put the Government under pressure.
Some 2,247 HAP tenancies were created in the capital so far this year, bringing the total active HAP tenancies to 5,825.

“This represents a decrease of 13,941 households – or 16.2 per cent – on the last assessment in June 2017. Indeed, since Rebuilding Ireland, the numbers of those waiting on social homes has dropped from 91,600 to 71,858 – reduction of 22 per cent,” said a department statement.

Among the key findings are that the four Dublin local authorities account for more than 43 per cent of the entire national list, though it has seen a reduction of 4,500.

Some 2,247 HAP tenancies were created in the capital so far this year, bringing the total active HAP tenancies to 5,825.

Dublin City Council also regularly removes households from the list if they do not respond to requests to confirm a continued need for housing.

Significant falls

All counties except Cavan and Monaghan saw the number of households assessed as waiting for social housing support fall, with many – such as Louth (31 per cent), Roscommon (31.4 per cent) and Cork city (28.7 per cent) - showing significant falls.

They are deemed by the department to have had their housing needs met when of course they are still in the private rented sector, often in insecure tenancies

In Louth there are now 2,500 active HAP tenancies, of which 727 were set up this year. In Roscommon there are 317, of which 175 were set up this year, while in Cork city there are now 1,923 active HAPs, of which 504 were set up this year to date.

“These figures put out by Minister Murphy are misleading. The true figure should take into account the number of HAP tenancies created,” said Mr Ó Broin. “Many of those in these new HAP tenancies will not have even moved property, having been moved off rent supplement and on to HAP.

“They are deemed by the department to have had their housing needs met when of course they are still in the private rented sector, often in insecure tenancies – not in social housing at all. What these figures actually show is that the numbers in need of social housing have stood still.”

In all there are now 49,501 HAP tenancies across the State, with new ones being set up at an average of 351 a week. Some 424 new HAP tenancies will commence in the first week of October.