Single parents in Laois are in 'desperate poverty' over housing crisis says councillor

Lynda Kiernan

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Lynda Kiernan

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lynda.kiernan@leinsterexpress.ie

Single parents in Laois are in 'desperate poverty' over housing crisis says councillor

Young single mothers in Laois are falling into "desperate poverty" because of the low housing rental allowance, says a local councillor.

Cllr Paschal McEvoy, chairman of the Graiguecullen Portarlington Municipal District, has slammed the level of low Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) given to a parent with one child.

"A single parent with a child gets €580 a month in HAP, you wouldn't get a caravan for that," he said.

He said the young parents take on a dearer property and try to pay the difference with their lone parent weekly allowance of €218.

"Young girls take it up in hopes that things will work out, but often it does not and they find themselves in desperate poverty," Cllr McEvoy said at the May meeting of the Municipal District.

Cllr Aidan Mullins had raised the housing crisis at the meeting, and both agreed that most private landlords will not accept the government's HAP payment, used to pay private landlords to take on council tenants on the housing waiting list.

"A lot of landlords don't want HAP, why would they," Cllr Mullins said.

"90 percent don't," agreed Cllr McEvoy.

Cllr Mullins slammed the HAP scheme as "a conjuring trick" to make it look as if council housing waiting lists are shortening.

"The HAP is a total sham, a cynical exercise in optics. It doesn't work. Focus Ireland says the emerging trend is families becoming homeless from the scheme. It's €800 to €900 to rent a house in Laois, but the HAP scheme maximum is €610 for a family with two kids. The gap is causing homelessness," Cllr Mullins said.

He has called for Laois to be included in national 'rent pressure zones' that force landlords not to raise rents by more than 4 percent a year.