Tuesday, 22nd September 2015
Threshold’s Dublin Tenancy Protection Service prevents almost 3,000 people from becoming homeless
-Charity highlights success of service’s first-year of operation at report launch-
The national housing charity Threshold, has today (22.09.15) launched a report outlining the success of its Dublin Tenancy Protection Service (TPS), launched last year to assist tenants facing housing difficulties and homelessness. At today’s report launch, the charity has also called for a number of urgent measures to be introduced to address the growing housing and homelessness crisis.
Speaking at the launch, Senator Aideen Hayden, Chairperson of Threshold, said: “The Dublin Tenancy Protection Service has been one of the most successful homelessness prevention measures undertaken in the last number of years. Since its inception in June 2014, the service has helped almost 3,000 people to remain in their homes and has assisted almost 5,500 callers with advice and support. Most importantly, the service provides a fast-track avenue for tenants to have their rent supplement increased above current rent limits to reflect increases in rent.
“The shortage of affordable accommodation in the private rented sector and growing demand for such accommodation is now one of the leading causes of homelessness. The achievements of the Dublin TPS demonstrate clearly that the most effective way to prevent homelessness is to keep families in their existing homes, through increasing their rent supplement payment to match market rents.
“The TPS is a remarkably cost-effective way to address the immediate affordability issues faced by thousands of families in Dublin’s private rented sector. The additional annual cost of providing 744 households with an increased rent supplement payment to prevent them from becoming homeless was €0.8 million. By comparison, €1.6 million was spent on providing emergency hotel accommodation for 361 homeless families in the Dublin region in July 2015 alone.
“The report highlights that tenants approved for the service are facing significantly above average rent increases, with the majority experiencing rent hikes between 11 and 30 per cent. In addition, four out of every five tenancies secured by the service needed an increase in rent supplement payment above the current limit, which proves that the limits are way below market level and this needs to be urgently addressed.”
Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Alan Kelly TD, officiated at the ‘Dublin Tenancy Protection Service: One year preventing homelessness’ report launch, which took place in Dublin today.
Key Successes of the Dublin Tenancy Protection Service
The Dublin Tenancy Protection Service is delivered on behalf of the four Dublin local authorities and in partnership with the Department of Social Protection. It is targeted at people living in the private rented sector, who are facing problems that may put them at risk of homelessness, such as unaffordable rent increases, notice of termination or a threat of illegal eviction.
Key achievements since the inception of the Dublin Tenancy Protection Service, include:
According to the report, homelessness in Dublin doubled over the first 12 months of the Dublin service’s operation. The Dublin TPS and the Cork TPS (which opened in January 2015) cover existing recipients of rent supplement, but people who live outside these two urban areas or people moving tenancies do not fall within the remit of the service.
Senator Aideen Hayden continued: “Our achievements with the Tenancy Protection Service are encouraging, but there is a lot more to do. Last December, Threshold identified the need for a national strategy to provide Ireland with a modern, affordable and inclusive private rented sector. No strategic response has been put in place to address the failings of the private rented sector, which now accounts for one in five households in Ireland. A framework for the delivery of quality, secure and affordable rental accommodation is needed, however more immediate solutions must be put in place.”
Immediate Recommendations for Addressing the Homelessness Crisis
In the report published today, Threshold is calling for a range of measures to be put in place immediately in order to address the homelessness crisis. The charity’s recommendations include:
Fionnughla McLoughlin, Dublin Tenancy Protection Service Manager said: “Ireland is facing an unprecedented homelessness crisis. In its first year of operation Threshold’s Dublin TPS succeeded in preventing two families a day from becoming homeless. As such, we have helped almost 900 tenant households to remain in their homes. Without this vital service, the number of homeless families in Dublin would be significantly higher and the homelessness crisis would be almost unmanageable.”
While most families were protected from homelessness through enhanced rent supplement payments or advocacy, a small number of families (50) were able to obtain alternative accommodation either in social housing or in other rented accommodation with the support of the Dublin TPS team.
The freephone helpline, 1800 454 454, operates from 9am to 9pm, Monday to Friday. People living in private rented accommodation who fear their tenancy may be at risk can call this number to access support. After an assessment of the housing difficulty, an agreed course of action will be put in place within a 24-hour period.
Further information is available at www.threshold.ie.
Contact: Tony Heffernan, DHR Communications Tel: 01-4200580 / 087-2399508
Notes to Editors:
About the Threshold Tenancy Protection Service
The purpose of the Tenancy Protection Service (TPS) is to secure people in their current tenancies and to prevent new presentations into homeless services. The service provides advice and support to individuals, couples and families living in either the Dublin or Cork areas who are living in private rented accommodation and who are at risk of homelessness. Most critically, it operates a protocol with the Department of Social Protection to secure enhanced rent supplement payments for households facing homelessness.
Threshold was founded in 1978 and is a not-for-profit organisation whose aim is to secure a right to housing, particularly for households experiencing the problems of poverty and exclusion. Its main concentration of work is within the rented sector. It provides advice and representation to over 20,000 people each year. Further information is available at www.threshold.ie.