Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 31 January 2018
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government
Role of Chairperson of Housing Agency and Related Matters: Discussion
I would also say we have 32,000 households on the housing assistance payment, HAP, which is a short-term response to their particular housing situation. We have 20,000 households on the rental accommodation scheme, RAS. One could argue that we have a gross housing need of approximately 130,000. The reason I say that is because all of us in here represent all of those people in our constituencies. I am in a constituency where there are more than 4,000 households on the waiting list just for Dublin Mid-West, and perhaps 250 families in emergency accommodation. We all want to ensure the system is fair. It is also important to emphasise the significant majority of those people who exit emergency accommodation do not go into a council house. In fact, if one looks at the most recent data, the majority of them go back into the private rental sector through the housing assistance payment. I say that in case anybody listening or watching thinks that people are automatically getting access to council houses.
It is also important to stress if one looks at Focus Ireland's most recent research via the intake team, because it has the data, that the key driver of families into homelessness is a notice to quit. The rental crisis is still driving. Whereas the Dublin Region Homeless Executive has said that family breakdown is the largest reason, it only asked people what was the last address they had. The Focus Ireland data goes back three addresses. A large number of those families who are coming from family breakdown got a notice to quit.
However, they chose not to go down the homeless route because they understood the major difficulties that would create for them and their children. Instead, they chose to go into family accommodation, which was unsustainable. I make this point because it is evidence to counter the theory that there is a gaming of the system.
Given Mr. Skehan's strong belief that the 2016 Housing Agency report is out of date, at what point did he make a formal request to the agency to do a further study based on the anecdotal information he was receiving?