Housing Minister’s announcement ‘too little, too late’ for Waterford – McGuinness

Cllr Conor D. McGuinness (SF)

Sinn Féin Councillor Conor D. McGuinness has said that Minister O’Brien’s changes to the homeless HAP rates for outside of Dublin are too little, too late for Waterford. He said the proposed changes demonstrate an ignorance of the realities facing cities, towns and villages outside the capital.

McGuinness said:

“Last week Minister O’Brien made two changes to the Housing Assistance System. He raised the basic rate for single people and he increased the discretionary rate for homeless and at risk of homeless cases outside of Dublin from 20% to 35%. While the belated decision to raise the base rate for single people is welcome, the decision to raise the homeless HAP uplift rate outside of Dublin to 35% is disappointing. 

“People in emergency accommodation and at risk of homelessness in Dublin can avail of a 50% uplift. There is no reason why people outside of Dublin should not receive the same level of support. The Homeless HAP uplift rate should be 50% across the state. This decision suggests that the Minister is totally ignorant of the realities facing cities, towns and villages outside the capital. It begs the question, are his colleagues in Fianna Fáil not feeding the information to him? Does he simply not care about areas outside his own constituency? 

“The private rental market is West Waterford is dysfunctional. The word ‘crisis’ is no longer adequate to describe the situation of next to zero supply and huge and growing demand. Day in day out I am contacted by families and individuals that are only a step away from homelessness, who are staying in unsafe, inadequate or overcrowded accommodation in order to avoid becoming homeless.

“The changes proposed by Minister O’Brien are too little and too late. What was missing from the Minister’s statement was a more fundamental change to reverse the growing over-reliance on rental supports such as HAP, RAS and Rent Supplement.

“There are almost 100,000 households in receipt of rent subsidies. A third of all private rental tenancies are in receipt of HAP, RAS and Rent Supplement. The cost of these subsidies this year is almost €1 billion euro. Year on year more money is spent by Government on subsidising private rental than on building houses. 

“This year, Government plans to increase HAP tenancies by at least 10,000 households. This is because they are not delivering sufficient social housing.

“The Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party coalition must increase their underwhelming and unambitious targets for social housing delivery and outline a plan to reduce the number of households in insecure and expensive subsidised private rental accommodation.

“Minister O’Brien must also ensure that Councils are free to purchase private rental properties with HAP, RAS and Rent Supplement tenants in situ with notices to quit and who are at risk of homelessness.”