Over 80% of rents too expensive for people on social welfare, study shows

Simon Communities says gap between rents and housing benefits continue to grow

Figures from the Simon Communities report showed just 17 per cent of the properties were available for people in receipt of rent supplements or Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) to rent. Photograph: iStock

Figures from the Simon Communities report showed just 17 per cent of the properties were available for people in receipt of rent supplements or Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) to rent. Photograph: iStock

 

More than 80 per cent of the homes available to rent are too expensive for people on state housing benefits, the Simon Communities in Ireland has said.

In a new study published on Thursday, the charity said the figures showed the gap between housing payments available to people on social welfare and market rent prices continued to grow.

The report comes a day after the Department of Housing’s latest homelessness figures show that at the end of December 2016 a total of 7,148 people were living in emergency accommodation, including 2,505 children.

This is the first time the number of people living in emergency accommodation has surpassed 7,000.

Figures from the Simon Communities report showed just 17 per cent of the properties were available for people in receipt of rent supplements or Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) to rent.

The study was carried out over three days, November 28th-30th, 2016, and looked at rental properties advertised on daft.ie in 10 locations.

The areas included city areas in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Waterford, Limerick and a number of large towns.

It showed the average rent across 260 rentals for a one bedroom home in Dublin’s city centre was €1,900. It then compared the average prices with a rental supplement/HAP rental limit for €660.

Niamh Randall, spokeswomen for the Simon Communities in Ireland, said on-going action was needed to ensure a “meaningful impact” on the lives of people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity.

“Already there has been a drop in the number of properties available to people within these limits since our last study in August 2016,” she said.

“People who are single and couples fared particularly badly with only five properties available across the 10 locations falling within rent supplement/HAP limits for a single person.”

Ms Randall said State housing benefits must keep pace with market rents.

“What is clear is that the combination of increasing rents and decreasing property availability is reducing the beneficial impact of rental supplements/HAP payments for people who are homeless, at risk of homelessness and those on low incomes,” she said.

“We continue to call for full rent certainty with rent linked to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and enhanced security of tenure.”

She said the payment limits needed to be reviewed every six months to stay aligned with private market rents.

The report also revealed there were 643 properties to rent in November 2016 at the 10 locations.

It stated this was a drop of 44 per cent from the homes available to rent in May 2015, when the charity carried out its first study.

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