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Dublin: 0°C Saturday 10 April 2021

€373m spent in three years on private rental properties for social housing

A further €66.9 million has already been spent this year on another leasing initiative that involving private rental property.

Image: houses image via Shutterstock

OVER €373 MILLION was spent in a three year period on a scheme that involves local authorities paying landlords to provide accommodation for those in need of long term housing.

A person who has been receiving rent supplement for a long period will be placed on the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) and will pay a contribution to the local authority which has a contract with the landlord and pays them the rent directly.

In response to a parliamentary question from Richard Boyd Barrett, junior minister Jan O’Sullivan, said the expenditure figures do not just cover rents but also include “payments that are made to Approved Housing Bodies, administration costs, deposits on newly acquired accommodation, payments made in respect of additional units supplied under the Social Partnership Agreement Towards 2016 and up to very recently payments in respect of homeless persons”.

The amount spent on this scheme has been rising from €115.9 million in 2011, to €125.4 million in 2012 and again in 2013 to €130.8 million. O’Sullivan said her department does not hold data on the amount directly paid by local authorities to private landlords.

This year, a further €66.9 million has already been spent on the Social Housing Leasing Initiative, which operates in a similar way to RAS.

“This expenditure includes the cost of recouping the interest on 1,985 unsold affordable units to local authorities and leasing costs on 497 units in the ownership of approved housing bodies or the NAMA SPV,” the minister of state explained.

She said the remaining 2,256 units delivered this year have been acquired under lease or rental arrangements from private property owners at an average cost of €6,472 per unit per annum.

There were heated exchanges between O’Sullivan and opposition TDs in the Dáil this week as they debated the issue of homelessness, with many accusing the government’s social housing policies of pushing people onto the streets.

Sinn Féin’s Jonathan O’Brien said 80 per cent of the people who visit him at his clinic are there with housing issues and many are living in houses with no hot running water and no heating, “paying money from top of social welfare payments on top of rent allowances to live there because they have no other choice”.

Read:‘Time to put flesh on the bones of your policies’: Heated exchanges in homeless debate>

Ireland’s housing crisis: Four women’s stories of facing eviction and homelessness>

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