Limerick families in rented accommodation are being priced out of the market

Ger Spillane, Focus Ireland Limerick manager
Ger Spillane, Focus Ireland Limerick manager

THE Limerick branch of Focus Ireland has called for urgent Government action to raise rent supplements to prevent more families from losing their homes.

The charity, that works with people who are homeless or at risk of losing their home, insist that rent supplements in Limerick are too low and make it very difficult for people to keep paying their rent. They that warn some families and single people have been priced out of the market making it nearly impossible for homeless people to find a place to live.

Last year the Focus Advice Centre in Limerick provided support to 229 people. 70 households were either prevented from losing their homes or settled into new homes as part of its Prevention and Tenancy Sustainment services in Limerick.

According to Focus Ireland Limerick manager Gerard Spillane, there is a real shortage of affordable accommodation in the city, especially one bed apartments for single people and family homes, that people can afford under the current rent supplement cap limits.

“Demand is high so this has seen rents rise and people on rent supplement are being priced out of the market,” he explained.

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Focus Ireland recently made a submission to the Department of Social Protection calling for rent supplement payments to match real rent levels to help prevent families and individuals from losing their homes in the first place. The housing charity called for the review to be completed promptly and the decision implemented on Budget day.

Focus Ireland said the Government also needs to bring in greater rent regulation to provide greater security for tenants and the taxpayer by keeping rents in line with inflation.

“Government policy on rent supplements is one of the immediate causes of the sharp rise in households at serious risk of losing their homes. It is not credible for the Government to accept the housing situation is at crisis point yet not take the straightforward action of raising rent supplement levels to help prevent people from losing their homes,” said Mr Spillane.

“Essentially the Government is trying to push the 30 per cent of households who rely on rent supplement into the bottom third of the rental market. Many of these homes are already rented to people on low wages or students, so the numbers just don’t add up,” he explained.

Focus Ireland has suffered repeated funding cuts at a national level and has to raise one third of its annual budget to keep its services running.