10th July 2022
June’s Locked Out of the Market Report Finds Just 37 HAP Properties Available Across 16 Areas
The Simon Communities of Ireland’s quarterly Locked Out of the Market report shows yet another stark decline in the availability of affordable properties to rent by people reliant on Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Scheme. The report comes in the context of a private rental market affected by a documented ongoing contraction in supply, increase in rental prices, and an overall lack of affordability.
There were just 37 properties available under a standard or discretionary limit in at least one of the four categories. This represented a decrease of 43% on the 80 properties which were available within at least one HAP category in the March 2022 study and a drastic 95% less than the 906 available this time last year (June 2021).
Of the 37 properties, only two were affordable under a standard HAP limit. The remaining 35 fell under discretionary rates. As seen in many recent Locked Out of the Market reports, the supply of properties within HAP limits was predominantly available in Dublin; 27 of the total 37 HAP properties were found in the three Dublin areas examined (Dublin City Centre, Dublin City North and Dublin City South).
Across all the areas surveyed, there were only 657 unique properties available to rent at any price within the 16 study areas over the three dates surveyed. This represented a decrease of 11% from the 737 properties available to rent in the March 2022 Locked Out of the Market report.
Outside of Dublin, properties available to rent within HAP limits are worryingly low; nine of the 16 study areas had no properties available to rent in any household category within standard or discretionary HAP limits. These were Cork City Centre, Dublin City Centre, Galway City Centre, Galway City Suburbs, Co. Leitrim, Limerick City suburbs, Limerick City Centre, Sligo Town, and Portlaoise. This is not unexpected, given the discretionary HAP limit extends to 50% in Dublin, while the rest of the country is limited to only 20%.
The Locked Out of the Market report examines the experience of people on a low income and dependent on Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) to access housing in the private rental market. It also looks at the availability of homes to rent over a three-day period in June 2022. The report considers the availability of properties within both the standard and discretionary HAP limits in 16 areas around the country for four household categories: single person, couple, couple/one parent and one child and couple/one parent and two children.
In this report, the Simon Communities of Ireland has taken account of the recent announcement by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage to increase the discretionary rate to 35% for areas outside Dublin. On Thursday 7th July, the Minister signed the required statutory instrument to give effect to this commitment.
If the 35% discretionary rate had been introduced at the time of this study, an additional five HAP properties would have been available. At the time of the study there were 10 available.
The Minister has also increased the single adult HAP rate to match the couple’s rate. If this measure were introduced at the time of this study, singles and couples would have 17 properties available to them under standard and discretionary HAP rates. At the current rates, only one location (Athlone) had a property (one-bedroom unit) within standard HAP limits for single people. That same property was also the only one-of-two properties available within standard HAP limits for a couple.
For families with one and two children, there were no properties available within standard HAP limits. Only 12 properties were available under discretionary limits for households with one child. A further 8 properties were available for families with two children, under the discretionary HAP rate.
Wayne Stanley, Head of Policy and Communications at the Simon Communities of Ireland, said:
“We’re seeing homelessness numbers go up and the availability of affordable properties decline to unprecedented levels. In May we had 10,325 people in homeless emergency accommodation. These numbers are truly shocking.
We do acknowledge the positive intervention that the Minister for Housing has made with the increase in HAP rates. While it falls short of the 50% increase that we have been calling for, our study shows it will have a positive, if limited impact, in supporting those on HAP to secure a home.
It will serve to relieve some of the pressure from those ‘topping up’ their HAP payment and struggling to make ends meet. In the context of the current cost of living crisis, this intervention will help keep some vulnerable households out of homelessness.
However, we also have to acknowledge the depth of the crisis in housing. That means we have to start looking for options that can create some breathing room in the housing system.
The 166,000 vacant homes identified in the census is a starting point. Attacking vacancy and bringing even 3% (5,000) of these a year into public housing system use for the next 2 years would give us that headroom. In the coming budget, we will be calling on the government to make that level of commitment.”
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