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Charity warns affordability crisis will drive homelessness figures up

The Simon Communities of Ireland said single people face a limited amount of affordable properties.

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An affordability crisis will continue to drive people into homelessness, the Simon Communities of Ireland has warned (Victoria Jones/PA)

An affordability crisis will continue to drive people into homelessness, the Simon Communities of Ireland has warned (Victoria Jones/PA)

An affordability crisis will continue to drive people into homelessness, the Simon Communities of Ireland has warned (Victoria Jones/PA)

An affordability crisis will continue to drive people into homelessness, a charity has warned.

The Simon Communities of Ireland said an underlying chronic lack of affordable supply persists in the wake of the pandemic.

According to their quarterly Locked Out report, single people face a limited amount of affordable properties.

The report found just four properties were available within standard housing assistance payment (HAP) limits for a single person and a further 95 properties were found within discretionary limits for single people.

Six of the 16 study areas did not have a single property available within either standard of discretionary HAP limits in any of the family categories.

Some of the study areas included Athlone, Cork, Dublin, Galway and Limerick.

We are concerned that when the restrictions are eventually lifted, we’ll go back to where we were or worse as we haven’t seen the full effect of fallout from the Covid-19 pandemicWayne Stanley, Simon Communities of Ireland

Some 95% of properties available within HAP limits were in Dublin.

There were 3,019 properties available to rent at any price within the 16 areas from December 14 to 16, representing a 19% increase from the 2,543 properties which were available to rent at any price in September 2020.

However, it is a similar number to the 2,988 properties recorded in June 2020, representing just a 1% increase in supply since the summer.

Wayne Stanley, head of policy and communications at the Simon Communities, said: “The Locked Out report looks at the experience of people who may be on a low income and in receipt of housing assistance payment (HAP), and what the possibility is for them accessing accommodation in the private rental market.

“We still have an affordability crisis across the housing system and this is what will drive people into homelessness.

“What this report shows is that the single person doesn’t fare well, but the availability of accommodation has increased in the Dublin region.

“Over the last year we have seen a significant fall in the number of people in homeless emergency accommodation since 2019.

“Homeless numbers have gone down almost 20%. That’s due to a number of factors – the number of people coming into homelessness has fallen, the moratorium the Government brought in on people being evicted during the last year and the prevention of rent increases.

“However, we do know official numbers don’t show the full extent of the homeless crisis as the measures taken mask the structural issues that lead to increases in homelessness.”

Findings in the report also show there were 1,160 properties available under a standard or discretionary limit in at least one of the four household categories, representing 38% of the total properties available.

This represents a significant 57% increase on the 738 properties which were available within at least one HAP category in the September study.

“We are concerned that when the restrictions are eventually lifted, we’ll go back to where we were or worse as we haven’t seen the full effect of fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic,” Mr Stanley added.

“We need greater discretion on HAP payments for local authorities outside Dublin.”

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