Warning over landlords' HAP 'discrimination'
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) has hit out at what it described as "systemic discrimination" against people in receipt of housing social welfare payments.
Discrimination against people receiving housing benefits and the unfair treatment of workers and job applicants on the basis of disability, gender and race, were all issues encountered by the country's human rights watchdog last year.
IHREC also revealed it received more than 1,700 queries, over 850 of which related to alleged breaches of the Equal Status and Employment Equality acts.
Almost a third of queries in relation to each legislative area related to discrimination on the grounds of disability, while one-in-six related to alleged racial discrimination.
A quarter of employment queries related to gender discrimination, while over one-in-five equal status queries related to discrimination on housing assistance grounds.
The figures were revealed just weeks after another IHREC report strongly criticised Government policies on housing, saying they were making the homelessness crisis significantly worse.
In particular, it highlighted the increased reliance by the Government on providing the Housing Assistance Payment - commonly known as HAP - as part of its social housing strategy.
IHREC said it found itself increasingly supporting people who have been discriminated against by prospective landlords on the basis of being in receipt of HAP.
These difficulties were making people reluctant to accept HAP and their preference was to wait for social housing instead.
In the annual report, IHREC chief commissioner Emily Logan returned to this topic, saying that while discrimination on the housing assistance ground can be successfully pleaded at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), it was unreasonable to expect someone facing homelessness to "refocus their energies on pursuing a complaint".
She said the issue could not be tackled using the WRC alone and further initiatives would need to be explored.