Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare-North, Frank O’Rourke, has introduced a Bill to prevent families from entering homelessness.
The Fianna Fáil Housing (Homeless Housing Assistance Payment) (Amendment) Bill 2019 makes it a requirement that a Local Authority would assist a family eligible for the Homeless Housing Assistance Payment from the time they receive a notice of termination from their current accommodation.
Deputy O’Rourke explained, “The period of notice which a family is served with varies and is dependent on the length of their tenancy. As it stands, a family must wait until the last month of their notice before they can even apply for Homeless HAP. This gives little or no time to find alternatives and results in a lot of families entering homelessness.
“Given the state of the current rental market, finding alternative accommodation in less than four weeks is impossible, even more so if a landlord knows they will have to wait weeks or even months for HAP payments to kick-in.
“If a family seeking alternative accommodation are armed with the Homeless HAP payment earlier in their notice period, which provides for a deposit and two months’ rent, then they are much more likely to find a place to live and therefore avoid homelessness. The landlord too will be much more receptive to taking on new tenants once they know they are guaranteed a deposit and rent in less than two weeks.
“There needs to be a logical approach taken. There is no cost to the state here, in fact a family in homelessness costs the state significantly more than a family in stable accommodation being assisted by HAP.
“Aside from that, the worry, stress and strain that impending homelessness causes is immense, and we know from many expert reports that this has negative physical and mental health implications, especially on children.
“It would make much more sense for the family to be able to apply and get Homeless HAP from the date their notice of termination is issued. At the very least they would have comfort in the knowledge that they can get looking for alternative accommodation at an earlier stage and avoid homelessness,” he concluded.