Rent Allowance cuts “making families homeless”

Joan Burton’s cuts to rent allowance are making families homeless.

Families who have been renting homes for years are now being given notice to quit by landlords because community welfare officers have told them they have to negotiate their rents down to a level the landlords won’t accept. Families also can’t find landlords who will accept rent allowance at all and are faced with being homeless.

The councils are not building houses and so there are no social houses for these families. The only thing they can do is ring the council when they become homeless and get emergency accommodation, often miles from where their children go to school.

Arising from Department of Social Protection cuts, the absolute maximum rent that can be paid for a house in Fingal, for example, is €900 or €950 per month if there are a lot of children. Very few get this maximum but the average rent is over €1,000 – €1,200.

One mother of five children who contacted me had been in the same house in  Dublin 15 since 2010. She has to vacate this week and has nowhere to go. Two of her children have disabilities. She was told to get a rent cut from €1,100 to €950. The landlord refused. The CWO wouldn’t pay the old rent amount, so arrears built up, allowing the landlord a basis for evicting the family. Both Threshold and social workers have tried to assist this family.

Another family of two children in Littlepace have been allocated €664 rent allowance and told the maximum rent they can pay is €825 per month. It is simply not possible to rent a house for that amount. Their landlord has also ended their tenancy after eight years.

Rent allowance cuts are directly making people homeless. Yet Minister Burton poses as a champion of women.

However, it is a ludicrous policy to rely on private landlords to house families. The money being poured into rent allowance by the taxpayer could instead be used to build high quality public housing, which would also bring rental income to the councils. Why should private landlords be subsidised by the taxpayer? Vacant houses should be taken over by the state. Thousands of building workers could also be taken off the dole to build housing for families who desperately need it.