Wednesday, 4 December 2019
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
I propose to take Questions Nos. 265 and 266 together.
Supporting individuals and families experiencing homelessness is a priority for this Government. Rebuilding Ireland, the Government's Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness includes a range of measures relating to the provision of emergency accommodation and the range of supports to be provided to households experiencing homelessness. In addition the Plan places a strong emphasis on Homeless prevention, both for households at risk in the rented sector and home owners.
The focus of Government remains on preventing homelessness to the greatest extent possible. Budget 2020 reflects the commitment of the Government in this regard, with an allocation of €166m for homeless services by local authorities this year, an increase of €20m on the 2019 allocation. While much of this funding is used to address families already in homelessness, a significant portion goes towards initiatives aimed at prevention and tenancy sustainment. This funding supports services to prevent families having to enter emergency accommodation and to ensure that those families in emergency accommodation are supported to identify and secure an independent tenancy within the shortest possible timeframe.
Threshold, the housing charity, already operates the Tenancy Protection Service (TPS) on a national basis. The service provides advice and support to households living in private rented accommodation who are experiencing tenancy problems, including where a tenancy is at risk of termination. The TPS seeks to protect existing tenancies, keeping people in their home and preventing them from having to access homeless services. This service has been an important contributor to limiting the growth in homelessness. Following a commitment in the context of Rebuilding Ireland, the Department has been supporting Threshold to deliver these services on an ongoing basis and allocated €800,000 for these purposes in 2019. The Tenancy Protection Service freephone operated by Threshold has been operating nationwide since 2017.
The Rental Tenancies Board (RTB) is also focusing on education and awareness amongst those living and working in the rental sector. Changes to the legislation, such as the introduction of Rent Pressure Zones, continue to feature heavily in education and information provision to landlords and tenants. The RTB continues to highlight the new requirements for tenancies located within Rent Pressure Zones, as well as promoting the role of the RTB to support tenants and landlords understand these new requirements, such as the RTB RPZ Calculator. Tenants and landlords are encouraged to contact the RTB to find out more information about Rent Pressure Zones, or to find out what to do if they believe they are being charged an incorrect rent.