Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
352. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the planning his Department is conducting to address the potential housing crisis involving long-term renters in the absence of private pensions in a large segment of the population particularly women and when the old age pension was not devised to cover the cost of accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44494/20]
Persons who are renting accommodation in the private market who are unable to meet the costs of their rent are entitled to apply for housing supports in the same manner as other citizens. Those with short term income support needs may apply for Rent Supplement through the Department of Social Protection and those with longer term accommodation needs can apply to their local authority for social housing supports.
Applications for social housing support are assessed by the relevant local authority, in accordance with the eligibility and need criteria set down in section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and the associated 2011 Social Housing Assessment Regulations (as amended). In order to qualify for social housing support and be placed on a housing waiting list, an applicant must be assessed by the authority concerned as meeting all of the eligibility and need criteria set down in the legislation which primarily relate to income and alternative accommodation. An applicant over the age of 65 years may apply for dedicated older persons housing.
Decisions on the qualification of specific persons for social housing support and the allocation of that support are a matter solely for the housing authority concerned. Such supports include the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) and the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) as well as the allocation of standard local authority housing or approved housing body dwellings.
A joint policy statement 'Housing Options for Our Ageing Population' was published by my Department and the Department of Health in February 2019. This statement builds on policy for the housing of older people as outlined in Rebuiding Ireland and the National Planning Framework 2040. It sets out forty actions on housing for older people incorporating six principles from which the strategic planning for this is derived. An implementation Group, which is representative of the relevant stakeholders, was established to oversee these actions as well as four subgroups to examine actions from the policy statement under specific work streams. The first progress report of the implementation group is published on the websites of both Departments and the Group's second report will be published shortly.
The implementation group was scheduled to provide its final report to both Ministers by the end of 2020, but in view of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on completing various actions it was agreed at its meeting in October 2020 to extend the group until March 2021.