Social housing list applicants in receipt of Housing Assistance Payment are finding it difficult to source accommodation in Carrick-on-Suir because of a lack of available private rental homes.
Carrick-on-Suir Cllr Kieran Bourke has warned the Co. Council that the HAP scheme is a "ticking time bomb ready to blow up" in the county, because of the shortage of rental accommodation. He claimed the private rental sector in his hometown is "non-existent" at the moment.
He told Carrick-on-Suir Municipal District's latest monthly meeting the HAP scheme was a "cop-out" by the Government as social housing applicants must source their own accommodation.
He said housing applicants had more protection if they were under the Rental Accommodation Scheme under which councils are obliged to source rental accommodation for them until they are offered a council house.
He cited the case of HAP tenants living in four houses in Castle Heights in Carrick-on-Suir, who have recently received notices to quit because their landlord is selling the properties. Tenants from two of those houses were finding it difficult to source alternative accommodation in Carrick-on-Suir because of the shortage of rental properties.
Cllr Bourke acknowledged the Council was trying to purchase the Castle Heights houses but pointed out that even if the local authority bought them the existing HAP tenants won't be guaranteed they will stay there. If they were RAS tenants, it would be the Council's responsibility to house them.
"This is where HAP is failing terribly. They have been told by (Council) staff when you are homeless present yourself here. The shouldn't be happening. That is very frustrating."
"It's a simple cop out. We are telling them: 'We are doing our best, we are giving you support but go find your own accommodation'. The rent supplement is no good to them because they have no place to rent."
Co. Council Housing Department senior staff officer Sean Lonergan responded that the HAP scheme was government policy and the Council had to implement government policy. He argued that HAP tenants had more security than under the old Rent Supplment Scheme and they were considered for any council home vacancies available for new tenancies. He pointed out that outside of Dublin, Tipperary had the hightest rate of transfers from the HAP scheme to social housing. He said the Council was using every option available to it to alleviate the housing shortage. It has tried to purchase the four houses at Castle Heights and county wide had agreed 53 house purchases this year. Last year the Council purchased 60 houses, which was the highest number of houses of any county.