To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government if he will address an anomaly in the housing assistance payment whereby private rented properties may be deemed not to qualify for HAP even if the person otherwise qualifies for reasons of sustainable communities and or tenure mix; the basis upon which decisions relating to sustainable communities and or tenure mix HAP refusals are made; his views on the case of a person (details supplied); the number of such HAP applications refused due to this policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Details Supplied) This is a family with 3 children, one of whom is autistic. They are currently expecting another child. They have lived in a property for 3 years which is owned by Cooperative Ireland. Their circumstances have recently changed and they have sought HAP through Carlow County Council. Her husband lost his job at Christmas and they are now in receipt of Social Welfare. Of the 70+ houses in the estate there only 15 are privately rented, the rest are social housing. The client’s property is privately rented and she has been paying €850 pm in rent. The client approached Cooperative Ireland and asked about getting HAP. The application has been refused. The Council have maintained that the property is Social housing and Local Authority run and therefore they can't accept HAP. The client has gone into arrears and Cooperative Ireland state that they will have to start to issue the rent arrears warning and NTQ.
Any household assessed as eligible for social housing is immediately eligible for housing support through the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme. Once a household has been deemed eligible for social housing support, it is a matter for the local authority to examine the suite of social housing supports available, including the HAP scheme, to determine the most appropriate form of social housing support for that individual household, in the administrative area of that local authority. Decisions in relation to HAP, including the suitability of HAP accommodation is a matter for the local authority concerned.
One of the key functions of housing authorities is to provide or manage the provision of social housing support in a way that counteracts undue segregation between persons of different social backgrounds and ensures the provision of an appropriate mix of dwelling types and tenure classes. Accordingly, local authorities may refuse to provide HAP in an area where they consider there to be an over concentration of social housing supports in place.
In relation to the Deputy’s specific query, while I am not in a position to intervene in individual cases, my Department has been advised by the relevant local authority that the family in question have sourced an alternative property and are approved for HAP support.
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