€16k on B&Bs and rental deposits for Laois homeless

Laois County Council spent �7930 in the first three months of 2015 on B&B accommodation for homeless people.
Laois County Council have had 91 people present as homeless at their reception desk already this year, with that figure predicted to grow.

Laois County Council have had 91 people present as homeless at their reception desk already this year, with that figure predicted to grow.

The council, who are responsible for rehoming people, temporarily placed most of the homeless people in B&Bs, spending almost €8,000.

Another €4,600 was given to people so they could put deposits on private rented accommodation.

In four cases, people were placed in hostels. There are no hostels in Laois, the nearest being in Tullamore and in Carlow.

Four of the cases were placed in transitional accommodation.

One case was placed with an approved housing body, and five were given council houses.

In total, the council has spent €16,288,69 so far in the first three months of this year, according to the figures released by Fionnuala Daly from Laois County Council.

The breakdown was requested by Cllr Aidan Mullins for the April meeting of Portarlington Graiguecullen municipal district.

He had many concerns about the rising numbers.

“The housing problem can’t be understated, it’s a social crisis. What is contributing to it is rapidly rising rent rates, and low rent allowances that don’t reflect that rise. A couple with two kids gets an allowance of €480, but asking people to get rental accommodation for €480 a month is pie in the sky,” he said.

The Sinn Féin Cllr claimed that children who become homeless with their families are missing out on school.

“Families are being moved out of the area with children, who are then taken out of school. They can’t register with a new school because they are transient,” he said.

He dismissed the recently announced national housing targets, which the government estimates will cut Laois’ council’s housing waiting list by 41 percent within six years, as “absolute crap”.

“They say it will build 75,000 houses in five or six years. In the past two months there has been a ten percent increase. It is getting worse, and going to grow with repossessions this year. Any suggestion otherwise is fooling people,” he said.

He is concerned about the delay in implementing the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme in Laois.

“It is being rolled out but probably not until the end of the year, that’s a year lost. The ceilings will be similar so what landlord is going to take €480 rent when he can get €700 on the open market, it’s crazy stuff,” he said.

Under HAP, local authorities will make the full rent payment on behalf of the tenant directly to the landlord. The HAP recipient will then pay a rent contribution to the council, based on their income and ability to pay.

It is for people who qualify for the housing list, and are in private rented accommodation, allowing them to work full time, and ensuring landlords are paid promptly, with standards of accommodation checked by the council.