Tuesday, 27 June 2023.

Home Truths: Single Homelessness in the Southwest paints a very clear picture of the scale of single adult homelessness in Cork and Kerry. They accounted for the significant majority of adults in emergency accommodation last year while only a tiny minority each quarter managed to exit to a tenancy - just over 5%. Our report highlights another home truth - the journey is far from over for those exiting to a private rental tenancy.

For the tiny minority of single adults fortunate enough to exit emergency accommodation in the Southwest to a tenancy, our Home Truths report shows that almost all depended on some form of social housing support to do so. The majority, in almost equal measure, exited to Approved Housing Body (AHB) lettings and private rental accommodation with housing support such as Housing Assistance Payment (HAP). Significantly fewer single adults exited homelessness in the Southwest to Local Authority lettings and long-term supported housing.

With reliance on private rental accommodation, risk of homelessness remains.

As precarious as the private rental sector has become, our analysis shows that single adults here in the Southwest are more reliant on that private rental market for exiting homelessness than homeless single adults nationally. They’re almost twice as reliant on private rental accommodation as homeless adults in families in the Southwest.

Exiting homelessness to a tenancy in any housing type is, of course, a welcome giant leap forward for everyone concerned. But that reliance on private rental tenancies, especially for vulnerable people trying to exit homelessness, is problematic.

Searching for private rented housing has become an incredibly competitive undertaking, especially for anyone reliant on HAP. As the Simon Communities Locked Out of the Market quarterly reports for the last 12 months show, there were zero properties available to rent in Cork city, and only two in Cork city suburbs, within the HAP limit for a single person on the days of their studies.

Overcoming that hurdle of securing a private rented tenancy is just the beginning. As we know, insecurity of tenure is a significant feature of the Irish rental market, reflected in Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) data. An average of 500 notices to quit were issued each quarter here in Cork last year to tenants with properties registered with the RTB. Nationwide, the RTB has recorded a decrease of 14% in the number of registered tenancies in the five years to 2021.

And the challenges still don’t end for people lucky enough to secure a private rental tenancy – and hold on to it, especially if they rely on HAP or similar to put a roof over their head. According to CSO data, out of all tenure types, people in private rental accommodation with housing support are at the greatest risk of poverty once their rent is paid; over two-thirds of private rental tenants with housing support will be at risk of poverty after paying rent; for them, homelessness remains a real risk.

“It's not only the problem of getting a place; it’s the problem of actually keeping to afford to pay the place. It’s budgeting everything… ESB, heating, the whole lot.”

But, of course, remaining stuck in emergency accommodation is the worst outcome of all - almost half of single adults in emergency accommodation here in the Southwest last year were long-term homeless by year's end. There's one home truth that would change their lives completely - finding a place they can afford to call home. I'll be exploring in my next post the insights our report has to make that a reality.