RAS/HAP ‘not solv­ing cri­sis’

The Sligo Champion - - NEWS -

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.

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