The Simon Communities in Ireland have today warned that the homeless and housing crisis continues to spiral out of control with the Daft.ie Q1 Rental Report showing rents continuing to rise for a record short supply of available homes. These are the first reported rental figures this year from Daft.ie, and show that the increasing prices seen in 2014 have continued into this year. Rising rents are pushing people into homelessness and far too many people are stuck in emergency accommodation for far too long because they have no other option. The figures released from Daft.ie today show that the supply of rental homes are at the lowest point in a decade, with a mere 4,300 homes available to rent in May 2015 compared to 7,200 in May 2014. This figure was at its highest with 24,000 available to rent in 2009. There was also an overall increase of 8.2% in rent prices across the country from the same time last year.
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities said that details of today’s report are very worrying.
"Rising rents are without doubt continuing to cause homelessness across this country. People who are homeless or on the very edge of homelessness currently have no hope of accessing the housing they need because they simply cannot afford rents being sought. It is inevitable that homeless services like ours are already stretched and overflowing and we will see even more people knocking on our doors unless the housing crisis is urgently addressed. There are currently more than 1,000 children and 3,000 adults in emergency accommodation according to the Department of the Environment.”
“Rent supplement and the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) limits must be increased and we question the very disappointing decision not to raise Rent Supplement limits announced by the Department of Social Protection and An Tánaiste Joan Burton in March of this year. Make no mistake this is causing homelessness and will continue to do so unless addressed. Protection for tenants in the Private Rented Sector is poor, we must offer greater rent certainty and increased security of tenure to those renting their homes. An increase in these limits coupled with rent certainty would protect against market inflation.”
“People on the single persons supplement are competing with couples for the same worryingly small number of properties and are immediately at a disadvantage due to their single status. The number of one bedroom housing units is extremely limited, yet we know 44% of those on the housing waiting list are single. The severe shortage of social housing is further compounding the problem.”
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities commented on the specifics of the Daft.ie report:
“The latest Daft.ie report showing that the cost of renting is continuing to rise nationally is of grave concern to us and to the people we support across the country. These figures reflect cumulative year on year growth over the last few years and compared to the lowest point for rents in Dublin, which was 2010, rents have increased by one third in the capital to date. The national figures also masks some significant regional variations – for example rents have increase in Dublin’s Commuter Counties from 7.6% in April 2014 to 14% in April 2015. Rents increased by 7.5% in Cork; 7.4% in Galway; 6.8% in Limerick and 5.6% in Waterford. We see the devastating impact of these rising rents and reduced supply everyday - people on low incomes or those in receipt of rent supplement simply cannot afford rental payments. As rents continue to rise around the country, the numbers of properties available have reduced significantly and are now at the lowest levels of availability nationwide in a decade.”
“This chronic shortage of housing and this homeless crisis is impacting on people all across Ireland - 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, people in urban and rural areas. We welcome the investment in social housing announced as part of Budget 2015 and the Social Housing Strategy 2020, but the homes it will deliver next year will meet the housing needs of less than 17% of those on the housing waiting list. There are 90,000 households currently on the housing list. With the 37,000 mortgages in arrears for two years or more and Standard and Poor’s forecast that Irish house prices will rise at the fastest rate in Europe this year, the need to address the chronic housing crisis has never been as urgent as it is now. Any solution to this housing shortage must involve all aspects of the housing market - the private rented, home ownership and social housing sectors. ”
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities said that housing supply and certainty around rents must be addressed now if the Government are serious about tackling homelessness.
“The Government has committed to ending long term homelessness by 2016, using a housing first approach. A housing first or housing-led approach supports people to move out of homelessness as quickly as possible and into permanent housing with tailored support services. We know from experience that it works. But without access to affordable housing with support, it will only fail. It’s heartening to see progress being made by Minister Alan Kelly and his Department, especially towards the end of 2014 in responding proactively with the Homeless Summit and the 20 Point Action Plan in response to the homelessness emergency – and we support recent commitments and developments to try to ensure that no one is sleeping on our streets at night and the issuing of Ministerial direction to Housing Authorities in relation to housing allocations.”
“However, it is essential that the Government does not lose sight of the ultimate goal which is to ensure that people who are homeless have access to long-term homes with the right support. We need ongoing action to ensure that housing is delivered to those who need it most. The biggest challenge right now is access to appropriate, affordable housing and, unless urgently addressed, more people will suffer, more people will end up homeless and the Government will fail to achieve their 2016 target.”
The Simon Communities deliver support and service to over 6,000 people and families who experience - or are at risk of - homelessness on an annual basis.
A full copy of the Daft.ie Rental Report Q1 2015 http://www.daft.ie/report/q1-2015-daft-rental-report.pdf
Homelessness - the numbers
• There are currently 3,081 adults in emergency homeless accommodation nationally, and over 1,000 children. (DECLG, 2015)
• During one night in March 2015, there were 151 people without a safe place to sleep in Dublin City. This included 105 people sleeping rough and 46 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 seven-fold in three years (2011-2014).
• In December 291 extra emergency beds were made available (Dublin and Cork), they are all or almost all are in use, (beds in Cork now wound down as at the end of March 31st), approx. 50 people are using the Nite Café (Dublin) each night and still there is still evidence that people are sleeping on our streets each night. (DECLG, 2015)
• 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 90,000 people on the Social Housing waiting list (Housing Agency 2014
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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.
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.