Government must do more to address housing exclusion and poverty in the rented sector
18 October 2017
The national housing charity, Threshold is calling on the Government to introduce stronger measures to prevent housing exclusion and poverty in the private rented sector, after a Europe-wide report highlighted Ireland’s reliance on this sector as a key contributor to the housing crisis. Launched yesterday (17.10.17), the Housing Europe ‘The State of Housing in the EU 2017’ report pointed towards a shortage of housing supply, increasing rents, and worsening levels of homelessness as issues in the Irish housing market, while acknowledging political commitment to fix the system and to tackle homelessness.
Threshold is again calling on the Government to:
- Tackle the affordability crisis by increasing housing support levels to reflect market rents.
- Develop a cost rental system of social and affordable rental accommodation.
- Increase the level of security of tenure for renters.
Commenting on the report, Threshold Chief Executive, John-Mark McCafferty said: "It comes as no surprise that Ireland ranks as one of the countries within the European Union experiencing the sharpest increases in the number of low income households paying too much for housing. The report, by Housing Europe, highlights the stark level of housing exclusion we face in this country, and in particular, the unprecedented number of families with children living in homeless accommodation."
He continued: "This report clearly recognises the plight of the so-called ‘working poor’ who are identified as a risk category for homelessness. This struggle is something we see on a daily basis through our national Tenancy Protection Service. Low- and middle-income households continue to find it increasingly difficult to access affordable, secure private rented accommodation. For households in these circumstances, the in-depth advice and advocacy support we provide makes the difference between tenants remaining in their homes and falling into homelessness, with the human misery that brings.
“The difference between housing supports and market rents continues to widen for people in receipt of the housing assistance payment (HAP) and rent supplement (RS). It is our experience that these households are dipping into their already scarce resources to make up this difference. It is imperative that the Government supports these vulnerable clients by closing this affordability gap and preventing extreme poverty."
Threshold is also concerned about the level of security in the private rented sector, particularly in relation to avoidances measures employed by some landlords to circumvent rent predictability provided for in Rent Pressure Zone areas. It is calling on Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy TD to review this as a matter of priority, as well as investing in affordable housing.
Threshold chair, Dr Aideen Hayden said: "This report highlights the importance of investing in non-speculative housing. It is clear that the current system is not fit for purpose. With one-in-five people living in the private rented sector, we urgently call on Minister Murphy to follow through on his commitment to develop a cost rental system of social and other forms of affordable rental accommodation.
“The European report acknowledges the Government’s commitment towards fixing the housing system and tackling homelessness - one such measure to address this, under the Rebuilding Ireland plan, is the establishment of the Expert Group on Cost Rental. This group is due to report by the end of the year. We look forward to seeing those recommendations, which we hope will include meaningful measures on an affordable rental scheme to help low and middle-income families. Such a scheme would provide much needed assistance to people whose incomes are above the threshold for State housing supports but who cannot afford private rents."
Threshold wishes to acknowledge the funding support of the Scheme to Support National Organisations 2016-2019 and the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.