RAS/HAP ‘not solving crisis’
TAXPAYERS paid ¤1.7m to 425 Sligo households in receipt of the RAS Rental Accommodation Scheme so far this year.
In 2017, the Council received ¤2.9million in Exchequer funding to pay for RAS households who rent off private landlords.
The information was relayed to Sinn Féin Councillor Chris MacManus who had sought the latest data on the Council’s Social Housing costs.
He was told there are currently 1,154 households on the housing waiting/transfer waiting list at 25 th September.
The total number of HAP (Housing Assistance Payment) tenancies so far this year is 598 but there was no information to hand as to how much those payments cost the taxpayer.
The Council owns 2,177 houses to let for Social Housing as of 31st August.
Cllr MacManus said HAP and RAS were only “short-term solutions to long term problems.”
“It is bad for tenants and for building sustainable communities. It is indefinitely expensive for the tax payer,” he said.
Cllr MacManus said hundreds of low-income families were forced to seek housing on to the private rental market “clutching a HAP application that many landlords refuse to take.”
“Regardless, the local market for private rental has seen rents increase by 8.5% here in the County, as the demand for private renting far exceeds supply.
He said that this pushed up the cost of renting for non-social renters which severely impacted on their ability to save and fulfil their hope of buying their own home.
Cllr MacManus suggested “an accelerated programme of provision of social, affordable rental and affordable sale” would take the pressure off the private rental sector, the home purchase market and help avoid another housing bubble.
Cllr MacManus was seconded by Independent Cllr Declan Bree who said the only real solution to the crisis was a massive public house-building programme run and controlled by the local authorities.
Fianna Fáil Cllr Keith Henry asked how many vacant houses the Council owned, and was told there are currently 67 houses ‘void’.
These will cost the Council ¤1.3million to restore to working order, 29 are already finished.
Sinn Féin Cllr Thomas Healy also said HAP and RAS were not solving the housing problem: “You need to be looking at the bigger picture,” he said.