Threshold report shows charity's intervention prevented homelessness figure from doubling

Threshold report shows charity's intervention prevented homelessness figure from doubling
File photo of Threshold CEO John-Mark McCafferty.

A report by housing charity Threshold has revealed that the country's homelessness figures could be two times higher if it wasn't for their intervention.

Threshold’s Chairperson Aideen Hayden said: “The latest Government figures showing that 10,514 people were living in emergency accommodation in October are shocking..

“But the report we are publishing this morning shows that a further 11,500 people were only kept in their homes last year because of interventions by Threshold.

“So the situation would be more than twice as serious were it not for these homelessness prevention services.”

Threshold launched its annual report for 2018 today, showing that in that year it answered an average of 321 calls every day from tenants needing support.

Ms Hayden said: “When these figures are published every month, people can often feel powerless to do anything about the housing and homelessness crisis."

File photo of Aideen Hayden.
File photo of Aideen Hayden.

The housing charity said that a failure to step up and stop homelessness will lead to yet more human misery as evicted families look to emergency services for shelter and support.

Ms Hayden continued: "This report shows there are real solutions. Prevention services really work.

Supports in the community can keep vulnerable people in their homes; and a long-term social housing building programme is required.

"Lack of long-term planning got us here. Proper planning for the future can get us out of here.”

According to Threshold CEO John-Mark McCafferty, the charity carried out 67,710 actions on behalf of tenants to fight for their homes in 2018.

“Whether it was making a call, providing legal representation or helping someone to navigate the complex laws underpinning tenants’ rights.

Because of this work, we stopped 5,161 households from becoming homeless. That’s 4,451 children and 7,111 adults who would have lost their homes without Threshold’s support.

“There are also many hidden homeless people who are couch surfing, staying with family and friends, and living in very overcrowded conditions. These people are not showing up in homelessness figures, but they are facing a housing crisis and need solutions."

They went on to claim that the vulnerability of tenants under Irish law has "undoubtedly contributed" to the lack of enthusiasm for renting as a long-term housing option.

Mr McCafferty said: "Our 2018 Tenant Sentiment Survey showed most of our clients are not renting by choice. 71% say they rent because they cannot afford to buy.

"The rental sector remains unattractive to many, and providing security of tenure, as well as affordability, to renters would change the perception of renting, and make the Private Rented Sector a secure place to call home for many in Ireland.”

A key finding in their report showed how they helped tenants stay in their homes.

“Of the notices of termination we dealt with, we found that over half of them were invalid and we helped clients challenge them,” said McCafferty.

"Three quarters of notices of termination issued to tenants in 2018 did not arise from any assertion that a tenant had perpetrated any wrongdoing.

The single biggest reason given for notices of termination was that the property was to be sold, and the incidence of this was higher than in 2017.

They also revealed that there was an increase in the number of tenants seeking support in relation to mass eviction cases and a rise in the number of cases of discrimination against tenants in receipt of Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) last year.

It is against the law for a landlord to discriminate against people on the grounds that they are in receipt of rent supplement, HAP or other social welfare payments.

However, Threshold said that some landlords continue to refuse to accept HAP or rent supplement, thus preventing households from getting a home.

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