Threshold's HAP Protocol
The gap between Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) and rents in the private rental sector is putting more families at risk of homelessness. While HAP is intended to help families secure a place to live, the reality is that HAP limits are insufficient to allow many on low incomes to secure, private rental accommodation.
When working with our clients, we also see many examples of the difficulties HAP tenants face, including the discrimination experienced by some vulnerable households trying to access housing in the Private Rental Sector (PRS), who must compete with other prospective tenants who may be seen as more desirable by landlords.
Seeing the urgent need for HAP to be reviewed with not just short-term solutions provided, Threshold proposed the establishment of a Tenancy Sustainment Protocol for Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and delivered this proposal to Government in November 2021.
Threshold currently operates the Interim Tenancy Sustainment Protocol (ITSP), which allows for increased Rent Supplement payments where tenancies are at risk due to rent increases. Threshold has successfully delivered this in partnership with the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection since 2014. The ITSP has been an effective and low-cost intervention in preventing homelessness for 6,375 households between 2014 and 2020.
As HAP has replaced Rent Supplement as a long-term housing support, and rents remain high, there is a need for a HAP Protocol. Based on a 2019 IGEES report, Threshold estimates that approximately 13,500 HAP households a year are in need of uplifts beyond the permitted discretionary payments.
The establishment of a Tenancy Sustainment Protocol for HAP can provide the following:
- Verification that the rent increase is valid.
- A space for negotiation on the rent between the tenant and the landlord.
- Assurance for the Local Authority that an increase in the payment is justified and will prevent homelessness.
- Ongoing support for the tenant should issues arise.
- Peace of mind for the landlord contributes to confidence in the HAP scheme.
- A reduction in Homeless HAP approvals.
- A reduction in homeless presentations.
- The reduction of unnecessary distress to households caused by losing their home.
- Tenancy sustainment removes the need to relocate.
- Financial savings to the Local Authority and State.
We are also calling for greater provision of social housing by the local authorities and AHBs and we are highlighting the urgent need for “real” affordable rental, whereby the rent reflects the ability to pay as opposed to being indexed to market rents or purely to the cost of provision."