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Long term housing applicants being forced onto HAP- Ó Broin

9 February, 2016 - by Eoin Ó Broin TD

Sinn Féin Councillor Eoin Ó Broin has described as ‘disgraceful’ a decision by the Department of Social Protection to force long term housing applicants in receipt of rent supplement onto the Housing Assistance Payment.

Cllr Ó Broin has said ‘families who have waited 9 or 10 years for a Council house will now have to wait even longer.’ He also accused the Government of ‘massaging housing list figures’ and ‘trying to introduce this deeply unfair policy after the Dáil had been suspended in the hope that it wouldn’t be noticed.’

Ó Broin continued:

“When the then Minister for Housing Jan O’Sullivan was introducing the Housing Assistance Payment in 2013 it caused huge controversy. The original scheme would have seen families who have waited years on the Council list moving into private rented accommodation and taken off the social housing list.

‘Strong opposition in the Dáil and within Councils forced the government to do a partial u-turn.

Families on the Council list who moved into HAP accommodation would be taken off the main Council list and moved to a HAP transfer list. While this would add years to their wait they would at least still have a chance of a permanent home.

‘When the scheme was introduced in South Dublin County Council in January 2014 the Council took a decision to direct only new applicants to the housing system onto HAP. The reason was those families who had waited 9 or 10 years on the Council list should not be forced to wait any longer as a result of taking up HAP. It was our clear understanding that these families would be left on rent supplement as they were very close to securing a Council allocation.

Ó Broin added:

"However despite this being the policy of the Council, the Department of Social Protection has this week written to families who have been on the Council list for over 9 years threatening them of withdrawing rent supplement payments if they do not transfer over to HAP.

‘This is a deeply cynical move by the Government. They are trying to introduce this unfair policy after the Dáil had been suspended in the hope that it wouldn’t be noticed.

‘They objective is very clear. If a rent supplement claimant remains in their house but transfers the payment over to HAP they will be removed from the primary housing list and the Government will claim that this list is reducing. In reality they will still be in insecure private rental accommodation and in need of social housing. This is about massaging the housing list figures, not meeting people’s real housing needs.

‘It is deeply unfair to force families who have patiently waited years on the Council list to take up HAP. I will be contacted the Council Housing Department and the Departments of Social Protection and Environment this week calling on them to reverse this deeply unfair decision. 

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