Report finds no HAP properties available in Cork city and suburbs during survey

The stark finding was highlighted in the latest Simon Communities of Ireland’s quarterly Locked Out report.
Report finds no HAP properties available in Cork city and suburbs during survey

The report showed that there were no properties available to rent in any of four household categories within standard or discretionary HAP limits in 10 study areas around the country, including the two areas in Cork.

A REPORT which looked at the availability of affordable rental properties for people reliant on the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme during a three-day period last month found there were no such properties available in either Cork city centre or the suburbs.

The stark finding was highlighted in the latest Simon Communities of Ireland’s quarterly Locked Out report, which examined the experience of people on a low income and dependent on HAP to access housing in the private rental market and looked at the availability of homes to rent over a three-day period in March.

It showed that there were no properties available to rent in any of four household categories within standard or discretionary HAP limits in 10 study areas around the country, including the two areas in Cork.

The report has prompted calls for a review of current HAP rates, with Cork Simon campaigns and communications manager, Paul Sheehan, saying that the organisation has witnessed an increase in the number of people seeking their assistance.

According to the report, there were only 80 properties available out of 16 areas around the country under a standard or discretionary limit in at least one of the four categories.

The four household categories include accommodation for a single person, couple, couple/one parent and one child and couple/one parent and two children.

This represented a decrease of 46% on the 148 properties which were available within at least one HAP category in the December 2021 study. 

Mr Sheehan told The Echo he was not surprised by the findings of the report.

“What it offers is a sense of the real world for somebody who is stuck in emergency accommodation or whose own housing is at risk and when they go looking for something they are pretty much priced out of the market which is not fair,” he said.

Mr Sheehan said a review of the current HAP rates would help alleviate some of the pressure people are facing.

“The biggest barrier is the HAP rate. They are capped at a level that doesn’t even come near what the market rents are. There is discretion to increase those caps by up to 20% in Cork, but even then, they still don’t come near to the asking rents in the market. A review of the rates would alleviate some of the pressures immediately.”

He said there has been an increase in the number of people seeking help from the Cork Simon Community in recent months.

“When the Covid related restrictions on evictions...and the caps on rent increases were lifted we started to see a steady increase in the numbers of people turning to us for help. Those measures were in place to keep people housed and they worked.

“There is no reason for them not to be maintained again as a response to the current crisis,” said Mr Sheehan.

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