The Simon Communities have this afternoon responded to the news that the Department of Social Protection will not be increasing rent supplement levels.
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson at the Simon Communities said that this news was extremely disappointing and very worrying for the people they work with.
“We are very disappointed to hear the news that rent supplement levels will not be increased by Government, particularly following yesterday’s PRTB rent index report where we know rents have increased by 5.8% nationally and by almost 10% in the capital. We have already been dealing with the fall out of a substantial gap between rent supplement and Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and the actual rents being sought. Make no mistake this is causing homelessness and will continue to do so. People who are homeless or on the very edge of homelessness currently have no hope of accessing the housing they need. This results in people on the single persons supplement competing with couples for the same small number of properties and they are immediately at a disadvantage due to their single status. This is compounded by the fact that the number of one bedroom housing units is extremely limited yet we know 44% of those on the social housing waiting list are single[i].”
“The severe shortage of social housing is adding further to the problem. We need to prevent more people from becoming homeless, especially those currently losing their rented homes due to these inadequate rent supplement caps and we need to ensure that people can move out of homelessness too. It’s clear that rent supplement and HAP limits are just too low. An increase in these limits coupled with rent certainty would protect against market inflation.”
“There was some recent progress in response to the homelessness emergency to try to ensure that no one is sleeping on our streets at night and Ministerial direction for Housing Authorities in relation to housing allocations. However, the extra beds allocated in December are mostly full. We must ensure greater numbers of people do not end up trapped long-term in emergency accommodation where there are currently 3,000 people, almost 870 children each night. Just last year we presented our 10 Point Action Plan to Ministers, TD’s and Senators urging them to ensure that homelessness is prioritised and that urgent action is taken on ten key issues. One of these recommendations was asking Government to increase rent supplement to reflect the market rents being charged. This announcement today just increases our fears for the future.”
“Vulnerable people - young people, families and children, older people, people with severe health problems, people battling drug and alcohol issues, people this state has failed from a young age - are being pushed over the edge into homelessness and at the same time people are being prevented from leaving homelessness. It is inevitable that already stretched and overflowing homeless services will see even more people knocking on their doors.”
The homelessness and housing crisis - the numbers
· At the end of last year there were almost 3,000 people nationally in emergency accommodation, including 870 children. 36% of those were outside the capital.
· There was a 20% increase in the number of people sleeping rough in Dublin (168 people) in November 2014 which is the highest since the count began in 2007. Unfortunately, Dublin is the only area where an official rough sleeper count takes place, making it difficult to get a countrywide rough sleeping picture.
· In December 2014, the Simon Communities reported a 41% increase in the numbers of individuals and families around the country turning to our services for help over a two year period.
- There are currently 90,000 people on the social housing waiting list.
- Social housing output in 2015 will be 15,000 units which will meet the needs of less than 17% of those on the social housing waiting list.
- According to Standard and Poors (Feb 2015) Irish house prices are set to rise this year by approx. 9% - the fastest rate in Europe.
- 37, 000 households are in mortgage arrears of 2 years or more.
For media queries and interview requests
Roisin McCarthy, Simon Communities of Ireland
Tel: 01 472 72 04/ 085 806 5141
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 6,000 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 www.simon.ie.
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.