95% of rental properties beyond reach of those on rent supplement

Simon Communities of Ireland review shows stark lack of suitable housing

Updated 12.30

95% of advertised rental properties are out of reach of people in receipt of rent supplement.

The Simon Communities has published a report on rental properties, and is advising the government that raising rent supplements is the only way to help people stay in their homes in the short term.

While Simon is welcoming the announcement that 1,000 new social housing units are to be built, spokesperson Niamh Randall says rent supplements while we wait for supply to improve.

The coalition has repeatedly ruled this measure out, saying it will only lead to increased rents.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin says that is shortsighted:

"The Taoiseach as late as Sunday said 'I'm not changing policy on rent supplements', Joan Burton has been saying that. They have been wrong on that - we're not just saying that - every agency at the coalface of housing has been saying that."

Three reviews

There are around 90,000 people on the housing list, and over 5,000 people living in emergency accommodation.

Simon reviewed the number of properties to rent on Daft.ie within Rent Supplement and Housing Assistance Payment limits over three days in November. The study was repeated in May and August 2015.

Ms Randall says there has been a major drop in properties that are affordable for people getting rent assistance:

"There were 746 properties available to rent, now that's gone down 13% since August and 35% since May, so what was most worrying was the gap between market rents and rent supplements in HAP payments.

There was only 4.5% of the total that fell within these limits, that's down 47% since August 2015, but it's actually down a shocking 75% since May of 2015."

Short supply

Just one property was available to rent within the limits for all of the four household types in six of the locations: Athlone, Dublin City Centre, Dundalk, Galway City Centre, Limerick City Centre and Portlaoise.

Simon also found that just one property was available to rent within the rent supplement limits for a single person, across all 11 locations.

Meanwhile, there are over 5,000 men, women and children living in emergency homeless accommodation in Ireland.

The Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, Alan Kelly, will announce 1,000 new social housing units today.