Housing crisis: More than half of households that rent receive State supports

State supports are being availed of by one-in-three renters at present, compared to one-in-five in the early 1990s.
Housing crisis: More than half of households that rent receive State supports

More than half of households that rent are in receipt of State supports, new research by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ERSI) has found.

In 2020, there were 293,673 households receiving supports for renting, up from 134,973 in 1994.

The difference between figures from 2020 and 1994 was attributed to "a shift away from the direct provision of support – through local authority and approved housing body owned accommodation".

Over the last number of decades there has been a move towards "indirect subsidisation of housing costs in the private rental sector", with the introduction of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) and Rent Supplement (RS).

State supports are being availed of by one-in-three renters at present, compared to one-in-five in the early 1990s.

Targeted supports

The ERSI report also questioned how well targeted housing supports are, as many low-income renters receive no support for their housing costs.

Almost one-in-five (16.7 per cent) of supported renters are in the top half of the income distribution.

Meanwhile, the qualification criteria for housing supports have become more restrictive in recent years.

The ERSI estimates that the share of households eligible to apply to their local authority for support with housing costs fell from 46.8 per cent to 33.9 per cent between 2011 and 2019.

This was attributed to a freeze to most income limits.

According to the ERSI, this amounts to 16 per cent of households overall and 54 per cent of those renting.

HAP was found to cover a very small share of properties, particularly in cities for single adults.

In Dublin, just 6 per cent of one-bedroom tenancies registered in 2020 came under the maximum rent allowed for single adults claiming HAP.

Some seven out of 31 local authorities across the State had at least a quarter of one-bedroom tenancies below these limits.

Graphic: ERSI

According to the ERSI, this is in part because rents for new tenancies increased by 24 per cent between 2017 – when these rent limits were last revised – and 2020, but it also reflects differences in coverage across counties when introduced.

The report also found there is a substantial variation across local authorities in the level of support provided to otherwise identical households.

For example, a lone parent with two children earning €25,000 per year would pay a contribution of just €226 per month in South Dublin County Council, €313 per month in Donegal but €450 per month in Meath.

Rachel Slaymaker, one of the authors of the report, linked the findings of the report to the lack of supply.

“Our report highlights the chronic undersupply of affordable rental accommodation in many areas, particularly for low-income single adults,” Ms Slaymaker said.

“Addressing this is likely to require sustained investment in and expansion of the public housing stock for rent: something that will entail more than just increasing expenditure.”

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