Thursday 26 April 2018

Charities call for hikes in State rent supports

Stock picture
Stock picture
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Rental payments from the State are now 20pc below the market rate - which is resulting in families being forced to top up payments to landlords using their social welfare payments.

Housing charity Threshold told the forum on housing and homelessness that people on low incomes were unable to compete for housing because they had "less to offer". It called for an urgent review of the rates being paid.

The warning came as Focus Ireland released new figures which showed that 83 families became homeless in Dublin in February, bringing the total in the first two months of the year to 208.

"January (with 125 families) was the record total ever," a spokesman said. "It's a sign that the steps they've taken on the rental market aren't having an impact. Less than 800 families became homeless last year in Dublin."

Charities have called for working groups to be established to deal with the issue of buy-to-let landlords, the role of Nama in helping solve the housing crisis, and the issue of rent supplement payments not being sufficient to provide decent homes.

Focus Ireland said there was a consensus among groups working in the sector that these were among the biggest issues to be tackled in preventing homelessness. Figures show that 790 families, including 1,600 children, are currently living in emergency accommodation, most in hotels.

The forum also heard from the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) that deposit requirements should be eased.

CIF said mortgage drawdowns of up to 4.5 times salary should be allowed for a limited period to help kick-start the sector. This would allow families with approval to put deposits on homes, which in turn would give developers a better chance of securing finance from banks and help deliver units.

Separately, Nama warned that while it would deliver 20,000 units by the end of 2020, the State bad-bank would only provide around 20pc of the units required to meet demand.

Spokesman Martin Whelan said part of the problem was that land banks could not be developed because there was a lack of essential services, including water or roads.

The Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend was capable of providing 2,000 homes, but needed investment of up to €30m. Cherrywood in south Dublin required investment of some €100m, which was likely to be funded by house purchasers.

Irish Independent

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