Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne has raised the issue of public information about the Housing Assistance Payments with Louth Co Council officials.
Commenting after Monday’s Drogheda Municipal Districts meeting Cllr Byrne said
“With the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) being applied for by an increasing number of tenants in Louth and in particular the Drogheda area every month, I believed the Council were not being proactive enough in creating awareness in relation to the scheme. I wanted to know if applicants where aware that they are entitled to apply to the Local Authority’s transfer list with any time spent on the Local Authority’s Housing list taken into account?
“Removal from the council’s principle housing list is a condition of the HAP scheme as it deems your housing needs met, but the provision is in place as stated above to alternatively apply for the transfer list.
“I raised the question on this as once again I noticed an increase in the number of applicants for the HAP scheme but no increase on the transfer list to match. I was assured by the SEO for Housing that every applicant for the HAP scheme is made aware of the provision to apply to the Local Authority transfer list, but they just don’t report these HAP transfer figures in the monthly report along with the regular transfer applicant numbers”.
Cllr Byrne accepted this explanation for conflicting numbers but also said “Whereas the HAP scheme may work in the interim for rental payment assistance, but once a family has been accepted onto the scheme it is deemed to have had its housing needs met. This means that at the stroke of a pen, the family is struck off the housing list after years of waiting and is effectively back to square one come the end of their agreed HAP contract time has expired, be it two years or twenty. It is crucially important that these applicants know they can apply to the Local Authority Transfer list and have their length of time waiting on the principle housing list factored into consideration.”