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Homeless Accommodation

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 1 June 2021

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Ceisteanna (322)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

322. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the backlog in homeless HAP payments is causing warnings and threats of eviction to tenants from landlords and causing anxiety to those who already have experience of homelessness and do not wish to return to that scenario again as in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29326/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Despite the challenges faced throughout 2020 due to the Covid 19 emergency measures, local authorities and the Housing Assistance Payment Shared Service Centre (HAP SSC) have continued to provide a critical service to all HAP customers. This is evident in the high number of HAP tenancies that continued to be set-up this year. The 2021 HAP target is for 15,000 additional tenancies and, at the end of Q1 2021, 3,914 HAP tenancies (26% of target) had been established.

Measures that were required to be taken in the context of Covid-19, however, have had an impact on processing times for HAP applications, including Homeless HAP Applications. The average processing time at end Q4, 2020 was 38 days.  An analysis of more recent data from the HAP SSC indicates a reduction on that average processing time at end Q1, 2021 to 35 days.

My Department and local authorities are keenly aware of the importance of minimising HAP processing times and the critical need to keep this under review at a local level. My Department has communicated this to local authority management through the County and City Management Association.

It should be acknowledged that any delay in tenants and landlords supplying relevant information, or inaccuracies or missing information, will impact on the processing time of the HAP application. However, in instances where there are delays at the processing stage within a local authority, payment to the landlord will be backdated to the date on which a complete and valid application form was received by the local authority. The landlord is, therefore, not penalised for any delay.

Through our ongoing engagement with local authorities my Department has stressed the need to minimise delays in processing these vital applications to ensure the social housing needs of tenants can be met through the HAP scheme where required. My Department is closely monitoring this situation and will continue to do so over the coming months.

Additionally, as you are aware, under HAP, households at risk of homelessness may be eligible for additional supports.  To qualify for specific additional supports available to homeless households, a household must have been determined by the relevant local authority to be homeless within the meaning of section 2 of the Housing Act 1988. 

The operation of local homeless services, including the Place Finder Service, is a matter for each local authority.

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