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Media Releases 2015

Rent Supplement safety net failing to keep people out of homelessness

Simon Communities study finds 95% of properties available to rent beyond their reach of those in receipt of rent supplement/HAP payments

Press Releases, Press Release 2015, Press Releases 2016

95% of properties available to rent are priced beyond the reach of people depending on state rent supports for their housing, a snapshot study by the Simon Communities in Ireland has found. There was just one property available to rent for a single person within rent supplement/HAP limits over the three day study period; this was in Leitrim. These shocking findings show that the housing and homeless crisis needs action before the current Government leaves office. It cannot wait.

Conducted over three consecutive days in November, ‘Locked Out of the Market III: The Gap Between Rent Supplement/HAP Limits and Market Rents’ highlights the extent of the shrinking private rented market as the ever increasing gap between rising rents and rent supplement/ housing assistance payments (HAP) limits.  The Simon Communities also undertook this study in May and August 2015. Rents have increase by 32.3% since April 2012 while rent limits have remained unchanged since June 2013.

Locked Out of the Market III found that there were 746 properties to rent over the snapshot period in eleven locations. This is a 13% fall to the number of properties available to rent compared to the August study (859) and a 35% drop in the May study (1,150). The number of properties available to rent at or below rent supplement/HAP limits fell by 47% when compared to August from 64 to 34 properties. This was a 75% drop from the May study when 138 properties were available to rent at or below rent supplement/HAP limits.

Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities, said the figures show that the housing and homeless crisis rages on and that the Government still has the opportunity and power to address these urgent issues.

‘People who are single fared particularly badly with only one property available across the 11 locations falling within rent supplement/HAP limits for a single person. Yet we know 44% of those on the social housing waiting list are single. There were no properties available within any of the limits in Kildare. Just one property was available to rent within all of the four categories in six of the locations; Athlone, Dublin City Centre, Dundalk, Galway City Centre, Limerick City Centre and Portlaoise. In Galway, Athlone and Dundalk the only properties available for a couple/one parent and child were one bedroom properties and we would have to question the suitability of a one bedroomed property for this household type. Rent Supplement is meant to provide a safety net for people and families at a time of need to support them into or to remain in housing. Clearly it is not fulfilling this vital role.”

“This is the third time the Simon Communities have undertaken the Locked Out study and each time we can see the crisis escalating further. Now a staggering 95% of properties are out of reach for people receiving state housing support. Rent Supplement/HAP limits are simply too low as rents continue to escalate and this is pushing people into homelessness as well as preventing people from leaving homelessness behind. We are still in the midst of a housing and homeless crisis. It requires political will to introduce the measures necessary to bring relief to those people who severely affected. This Government still has the power to make the changes needed and they must take decisive action to address these issues now.”

Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities, said the Simon Communities have the following recommendations.

“We need an immediate increase on RS/HAP payment limits, enhanced prevention and early intervention responses to ensure people remain in their homes where possible and a plan for the Private Rented Sector to ensure greater stability and security of tenure. Better use must be made of existing empty properties, houses and local authority homes. We badly need more social housing, just 28 units were built by Local Authorities in 2015 according to the Department of the Environment figures to date. Local Authorities must get back into the business of building and delivering social housing. NAMA could also pay a role in building and providing social housing.” 

“There must be an expectation that people will move on from emergency accommodation. This needs to be the expectation of people who are homeless; this needs to be the expectation of staff and volunteers and this needs to be the expectation of our Government - we are in fact told this is the case with the commitment to the housing first approach in the Homelessness Policy Statement. Emergency accommodation must only be an urgent, short-term response; longer-term plans must also be in place. Access to affordable housing with support is the most cost-effective and proven solution to the housing and homeless crisis.”

* The four RS/HAP Limit Categories looked at were; Single Person; Couple; Couple/one parent with one Child; and Couple/one parent with two Children.

The full report: ‘Locked Out of the Market III: The Gap between Rent Supplement/HAP Limits and Market Rents’ can be found here and contains ten recommendations from the Simon Communities.

For media queries and interview requests
Helen McCormack, Simon Communities of Ireland
Tel: 01 671 1606/ 085 806 5141

 About ‘Locked Out of the Market III’
• The study was conducted over three days – November 2015 (24th, 25th and 26th). The exercise tracked the number of properties to rent on within Rent Supplement and Housing Assistance Payment limits during this randomly-selected period.
• Details were gathered for the following locations: Cork City Centre, Dublin City Centre, Galway City Centre, Limerick City Centre, Waterford City Centre, Portlaoise, Kildare, Athlone, Sligo town, Dundalk and Leitrim.
• There was an average of 746 properties available to rent over the study period of this snapshot study in the eleven areas reviewed.
• 34 properties (4.5%) were available to rent within the RS/HAP limits for the four categories included in this study. This is a 47% reduction from the 64 properties available to rent within the rent limits in the August study and a 75% reduction since the May study was undertaken, when there were 138 properties to rent within the limits.
• Only one property was available to rent within the RS/HAP limits over the study period for a single person. This property was in Leitrim.
• Just 4 (11%) of the properties available to rent nationwide were within the RS/HAP limits for a couple. This compares to 9 properties (14%) in the August report – a reduction of 55%. 
• 15 (44%) of the properties available to rent were within the RS/HAP limits for a couple/one parent with one child. This compares to 34 properties available to rent within the limits for this category in the August report and 69 properties in May, a decrease of 78%. 
• The majority of the properties available nationwide to rent within the limits for the category of couple/one parent with one child were mainly one-bedroom properties; the properties’ suitability for this type of household is questionable.
• Average rent for a one-bedroom property was 48% higher than the average of RS/HAP limits for a single person across the 11 locations, this ranged from 17% in Leitrim to 112% in Dublin City Centre.
• Average rent for a two-bedroom property was 44% higher than the average of RS/HAP limits for a couple/one-parent with one child, this ranged from 9% in Sligo to 95% in Dublin City Centre.

Homelessness - the numbers
• There are 5,101 men, women and children in emergency homeless accommodation nationally, 774 families with 1638 children, and 2,420 single people. (DECLG, October 2015).
• During one night in November 2015, there were 152 people without a safe place to sleep in Dublin City.  This included 91 people sleeping rough and 61 people sheltering at the Nite Café.  Unfortunately, Dublin is the only area where an official rough sleeper count takes place, making it difficult to get a countrywide rough sleeping picture. (DRHE 2015) Figures from Cork Simon Community indicate that rough sleeping in Cork City increased nine-fold in four years (2011-2015).
• In December the Simon Communities reported a 20% increase in the numbers of individuals and families around the country turning to our services in 2014.
• There are 90,000 people on the Social Housing waiting list (Housing Agency 2014).
• Rents increased by 32.3% since April 2012 and the number of properties available to rent has reduced by approximately 83% since mid-2009 (

About Simon Communities
The Simon Communities in Ireland are a network of eight regionally based independent Simon Communities based in Cork, Dublin, Dundalk, Galway, the Midlands, the Mid West, the North West and the South East that share common values and ethos in tackling all forms of homelessness throughout Ireland, supported by a National Office. The Simon Communities have been providing services in Ireland for over 40 years.  The Simon Communities deliver support and service to over 7,000 individuals and families throughout Ireland who experience – or are at risk of – homelessness every year.

Whatever the issue, for as long as we are needed, Simon’s door is always open. For more information please log on to

Services range from
• Housing provision, tenancy sustainment & settlement services, housing advice & information services helping people to make the move out of homelessness & working with households at risk;
• Specialist health & treatment services addressing some of the issues which may have contributed to homeless occurring or may be a consequence;
• Emergency accommodation & support providing people with a place of welcome, warmth & safety;
• Soup runs & rough sleeper teams who are often the first point of contact for people sleeping rough. 

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