To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection given recently released figures from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government showing that the number of homeless families has risen by 76% since the beginning of 2015, the steps she will take to combat homelessness by increasing the Rent Supplement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. – Clare Daly.
Question No: 99 Ref No: 40009/15
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection in view of recently released figures from the Department of the Environment showing that the number of homeless families has risen by 76% since the beginning of the year, the steps she will take to combat homelessness via an increase in Rent Supplement; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
– Clare Daly.
* For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 17th November, 2015.
R E P L Y
The primary responsibility for provision of accommodation for homeless persons rests with local authorities. The Department’s role with regard to people who are homeless is mainly income maintenance.
Rent supplement plays a vital role in housing families and individuals, with the scheme currently supporting approximately 63,000 people at a cost of over €298 million in 2015. Over 17, 200 rent supplement tenancies have been awarded this year, of which approximately 5,600 are in Dublin, showing that people are securing accommodation under the scheme.
A review of the rent limits undertaken earlier this year found that the impact of increasing limits at a time of constrained supply will increase costs disproportionately for the Exchequer with little or no new housing available to recipients. Rather than increasing limits at this time, rent supplement policy will continue to allow for flexibility where landlords seek rents in excess of current limits. Under this measure, the circumstances of tenants are considered on a case-by-case basis and rents are being increased above prescribed limits, as appropriate. This flexible approach has already assisted approximately 4,700 households throughout the country to retain their rented accommodation.
The Department, including through its Homeless Persons and Asylum Seekers & New Communities Units in Dublin, works closely with local authorities, Government agencies and the voluntary sector in assisting homeless persons to access private rented accommodation. This ensures that, where possible, people are diverted away from homeless services and towards community-based supports.