Simon Communities call for new thinking on public housing and a review of Housing Assistance Payment Rates.
July 2nd: The Simon Communities in Ireland have said that rental costs in the private sector are still far too high nationwide, as the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) Rent Index for Q1 2019 shows that average rents increased by 8.3% over the year.
The homelessness and housing organisation said the report shows that the rental market remains under huge pressure and is struggling to cope with demand. The latest RTB Rent Index demonstrates that rents rose by an average of €90 to €1,169 nationwide in the first quarter of 2019 when compared with a year earlier. Annually, rents grew by 9.6% outside the Greater Dublin Area (Kildare, Wicklow, Meath). The annualised rate was 6.4% inside the Greater Dublin Area, and 8.5% in Dublin. Strong growth was also recorded over the year in Limerick City and Waterford City in particular.
The Simon Communities said that the extension of Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) to 19 new areas nationwide is welcome, along with new powers of investigation and sanctioning for the RTB. However, given the growth in rents above the 4% cap in areas including Dublin, Cork, Galway and more over the year, it is clear the RPZ controls need to be enhanced.
Wayne Stanley, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities, said that the latest Rent Index shows why those relying on the rental market continue are struggling to afford a place to live.
“This RTB report highlights why so many people are struggling to afford to stay in the rental market. An 8.3% increase in average rents is beyond the reach of too many. The current cost of rent, particularly in urban areas, has a serious impact on people’s standard of living. Too many individuals and families presenting to Simon have been forced to forego essentials such as heating, food, in order to keep a roof over their own heads and that of their families.
“The report today is particularly concerning given the ongoing homelessness crisis. The latest emergency accommodation figures show that the number of people trapped in emergency accommodation is 10,253. We know that many even the majority of people find themselves in this traumatic situation because they were being forced out of the private rental market.
“There are steps which can be taken to improve this situation. Rent certainty and security of tenure are the building blocks for a stable rental sector and the additional 19 Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) announced to today is a good step. However given the increases in RPZ areas in this report, it is clear that the RPZ system needs to be enhanced.
“Ultimately however, this report and others underline the reality that the private sector is not designed to deliver the level of affordable housing needed. The Simon Communities again call for construction and investment in social and affordable housing across all tenure types nationwide. We accept that there is a need for fiscal prudence, but braver policy choices such as an ambitious roll out of affordable ‘cost rental’ housing will provide both a social and economic dividend in the medium to long term.
“In the interim, the level of support offered through the HAP system will have to be increased to ensure that the most vulnerable are protected to some degree from the housing crisis.”
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About Simon Communities
The Simon Communities support over 13,000 men, women and children. We have 50 years of experience providing homeless, housing and treatment services to people facing the trauma and stress of homelessness. We are a network of independent Communities based in Cork, Dublin, Dundalk, Galway, the Midlands, the Mid West, the North West and the South East, responding to local needs and supported by a National Office in the areas of policy, research, communications and best practice. We share common values and ethos in tackling homelessness and, informed by our grassroots services, we campaign for more effective policies and legislation regionally, nationally and at European level. Whatever the issue, Simon’s door is always open for as long as we are needed. For more information, please visit www.simon.ie.
- Homelessness prevention, tenancy sustainment and resettlement.
- Street outreach, emergency accommodation and harm reduction.
- Housing with support and Housing First services.
- Homeless specific health and wellbeing services (counselling; addiction treatment and recovery; and mental health supports).
- Personal development, education, training and employment services.
- Food banks, drop-in centres and soup runs.