Thursday, 12 May 2022
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Noel Grealish (Galway West, Independent)
In recent months, I have held a number of meetings with organisations that provide services to people with disabilities. I acknowledge the tremendous work they do. An issue that came up with a number of different agencies was the difficulties they are having in trying to secure accommodation for clients in the rental market. I was told that most of the funding they receive is used to rent accommodation and they get very little capital funding to purchase properties. Some landlords will only rent a property for a three- or five-year period, which is causing significant difficulties as many landlords are now looking for their properties back as some want to sell to capitalise on escalating property prices and others want the property for family members.
I will give the Tánaiste a brief outline of a case that was given to me by one agency. The agency rented a four-bedroom bungalow for a five-year period at a cost of €1,600 per month. HIQA insisted that works be carried out to bring the house up to its standards and to ensure the accommodation was safe for the residents, and rightly so. It cost in the region of €155,000 to carry out those works and now the landlord wants the house back and returned to its original condition. Some €96,000 was spent on rent over the five years, €155,000 was spent on bringing the house up to HIQA standards and €78,000 was spent to revert the house to the way it was originally. That is a total of €329,000, which is a pure waste of taxpayers' money.
This is happening all over the country. These agencies, which look after the most vulnerable in our society, are finding it nearly impossible to source suitable houses in the rental market. It is a very big worry for them because they may not be able to house their clients. These agencies should be given multi-annual funding to purchase accommodation and to bring that accommodation up to HIQA standards so they can house their clients without the worry of having to move out after a few years. I am aware that some disability agencies work with local authorities and housing agencies to source accommodation but this only provides a small amount of accommodation overall.
Will the Government carry out a full audit of disability services and see how many properties are rented by them? I ask the Government to consider providing multi-annual funding so those agencies can buy and own their own houses. That would be more cost effective for the taxpayer.