Over 94pc of private rentals out of reach to people receiving HAP
The Government has come in for strong criticism after new figures reveal that 94.5pc of private rentals are inaccessible to people receiving the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).
A report by the Simon Communities of Ireland shows an average of just 5.5pc of rental housing stock across the country is within the limits of the social housing support.
While there has been some improvement in the supply of affordable family accommodation in Dublin, it indicates a "notable shortage" of one-bedroom housing for single people and couples.
A snapshot study found that just 97 out of 1,753 properties available to rent in 16 areas over a three-day period from December 10 to 12 last on Daft.ie were affordable to those in receipt of HAP. Just 128 of these properties were available outside of Dublin city.
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However, there was none at all available in Limerick city centre, Waterford city centre, Portlaoise, Galway city centre and Cork city suburbs.
Simon Communities spokesperson Wayne Stanley said the results illustrate how the lack of affordable accommodation in the private rental market is prolonging the current housing crisis.
"It is incredibly difficult, particularly for single people, to move on from emergency accommodation and homeless services when looking for HAP accommodation, because all too often there is nowhere else to go.
"In cases where accommodation is found, people are often having to resort to 'topping up', undermining the sustainability of that move on," said Mr Stanley.
"On a positive note, this study shows signs of improvement in availability of accommodation for families in Dublin city compared to previous reports, which is to be welcomed."
Mr Stanley said many of the areas with critically low levels of affordable accommodation, such as Cork and Galway cities, have also seen rises in homelessness.
"There are now 10,448 people in emergency accommodation, 4,274 of whom are single or couples.
"For a sustainable long-term solution, there needs to be a significant and sustained increase in the supply of social and affordable housing across all tenure types nationwide," he said.
Last year, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy defended the HAP saying that €400m was being spent on the scheme "to help keep people out of homelessness".