State risks 'wasting €800m' on rental help
The State risks wasting €800m a year on rental assistance payments instead of building social housing, a new report has warned.
Maynooth University (NUIM) has found that the cost of paying for 87,000 private rental units would be €24bn more over the next 30 years - or €800m a year - than if the homes had been built and run by local authorities.
The average Housing Assistant Payment (HAP) rent comes at a cost of €1,244 a month in comparison to the €800 a month cost of funding a local authority home.
This means that over the 30-year period forecast by the university, each of the units targeted in the 'Rebuilding Ireland' programme will come at a cost of €275,000 more.
Dr Mary Murphy, of NUIM Social Science Institute, said the Government's Rebuilding Ireland plan should have focused on building more homes through local authorities.
She also criticised the use of family hubs by the State as a means of temporary accommodation. She said, based on the current pace of house building, it will be years before families are moved to somewhere more permanent.
"There is a real danger that family hubs may become the next 'direct provision'," she said.
"They have emerged as a policy option with little public deliberation and considerable confusion as to their rationale and policy intent. Right now these families have been in hotels for two years already."
Meanwhile, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has raised concerns that the hubs will "normalise homelessness" and said that a provision should be put in place to ensure families stay in emergency accommodation for no more than three months.
A Dublin Regional Housing Executive (DRHE) representative said: "They are not the long-term housing solution as families will move into houses and apartments that will be provided under social housing supports, as supply becomes available."