THERE were only 22 properties available to rent at any price in Limerick City and suburbs last month and none of them were available within the limits of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme.
That’s according to a survey conducted by the Simon Communities of Ireland which found that throughout the month of June, there were only ten properties advertised for rent in the city and 12 in the suburbs.
On a national level, there were 657 properties for rent at any price and only 37 available within HAP limits, representing a 70 per cent decrease since June 2021.
The survey was conducted as part of the ‘Locked Out’ report published by Simon Communities which warned that the country is on the brink of record levels of homelessness in the coming weeks.
Simon Community head of policy Wayne Stanley said that hundreds more people will be pushed into homelessness by autumn as the number of affordable properties falls to an all-time low.
Describing the findings as stark and very concerning, he said that homelessness was now affecting a greater number of people in employment.
“This real structural tightening of the private rental market will mean more homelessness and that is really, really concerning. Since we started recording the figures in 2014, the record number of people in homelessness occurred in October 2019 and that was over 10,500 people. At the current rate, that number will be surpassed in the next two months,” he predicted.
At the time of the study, councils in Dublin could pay up to 50 per cent more than the current HAP rate while other local authorities could pay up to a fifth more.
Last Friday, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien signed off on a measure allowing local authorities outside Dublin to pay 35 per cent above the basic HAP rates.
However, the Simon report showed even if the increased discretion had been in place when the study was conducted, just a further five properties would have been available within HAP rates.
Mr Stanley said the trajectory of homelessness was following a familiar course.
“People lose their accommodation in the private rental sector, then they move in with family or friends in the hope that things will get better and then finally that situation becomes untenable over time because of overcrowding or other factors.”
“International research would suggest we are capturing only a third of the people who are experiencing structural homelessness,” he added.