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HAP housing scheme ‘has collapsed’ as analysis shows ‘just 4 properties available for rent in Laois’

Laois County Council General

The HAP housing support system has collapsed as analysis shows just 4 properties available for rent in Laois, a Labour representative has said.

Eoin Barry, said the housing crisis in Laois demands ‘serious government attention’ following research which showed only 4 homes in Laois are suitable for families who are seeking accommodation and in receipt of the Housing Assistance Payment.

HAP is a form of social housing support provided by all local authorities.

HAP means that local authorities can provide housing assistance for households who qualify for social housing support, including many long-term Rent Supplement recipients.

Under HAP, local authorities will make a monthly payment to a landlord, subject to terms and conditions including rent limits, on a HAP tenant’s behalf.

In return, the HAP tenant pays a weekly contribution towards the rent to the local authority.

This ‘rent contribution’ is based on the household income. It is calculated in the same way as the rent paid by a tenant of a local authority owned property.

Research carried out by Labour housing spokesperson Rebecca Moynihan found that just 820 homes for families receiving HAP were available in Ireland.

Mr Barry said: “HAP was introduced to give people and families a chance in this chronic rental market.

“However with only 3 properties for families and 1 for single people in receipt of HAP available in Laois , it’s clear that the system has collapsed.

“Despite the increase in the discretionary rate that the HAP system has failed, and moving from direct build social housing to HAP has been a disaster for those at the bottom of the housing market.

“Long-term, we need much more social housing built at scale, but short-term we need to revise the basic HAP limits as they are clearly not reflecting the outrageous rents charged in Laois or throughout the country.

“Single people in particular are really struggling to find accommodation, which is being reflected in our homeless figures.

“The HAP rates available to single people are nowhere near adequate even if a place can be found. This is driving more and more single people from the private rental market into homelessness.

“I am also keenly aware of the number of renters in Laois on low incomes who aren’t receiving social supports yet are struggling to keep a roof over their head.

“I would reiterate Labour’s demands that the Minister for Housing urgently progress the implementation of the Income Eligibility Scheme as laid out in the Housing for All plan and ensure that we revisit the income limits to qualify for social housing.

“The unfortunate reality is that there is a fundamental lack of supply in the housing market.

“We need government to increase investment in cost rental properties and social and affordable housing. While we wait for more stock to come onto the market, targeted and time limited measures like a rent freeze must be considered by government to protect all renters.”

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.