23 November 2020
By Tom Collins
National housing charity Threshold has made an urgent appeal for any landlords with vacant properties in Cork to make contact ahead of the Christmas period, amid a shortage of rental properties in the area. Threshold is seeking landlords to collaborate with its Access Housing Unit, which matches landlords with prospective tenants who are living in temporary accommodation or at risk of homelessness.
Between November 2018 and November 2020, Threshold’s Access Housing Unit in Cork supported 61 households – including 54 families and 75 dependents – to leave temporary accommodation and move into long-term housing.
The service provides benefits for landlords and tenants alike – the tenant completes a pre-tenancy programme and is made fully aware of their rights and obligations as tenants; once a lease is agreed to, the rented property is visited by a representative from Threshold’s Access Housing Unit on a regular basis for the duration of the tenancy.
Southern Regional Services Manager at Threshold, Edel Conlon said: “The number of people experiencing homelessness in Cork saw a 5% increase between August and September, after the blanket moratorium on evictions was lifted. While the moratorium has since been reinstated, it is a temporary measure and won’t keep tenants safe in their homes in the long term. In addition to this, there is a significant shortage of rental properties in the region at present, with just 565 homes available to rent in Munster on November 1 – the lowest stock on the market since February 2006.
“With these factors in mind we have re-launched our appeal to all landlords that may have residential properties to let, to come forward and work in partnership with Threshold to address the needs of our communities. Local landlords have found the service very attractive and many have come back to us time and time again.”
Assistant Manager at Threshold’s Access Housing Unit, Mairead O’Sullivan said: “Our homes provide life-saving shelter, warmth and protection, but they also form the foundation for the rest of our lives too, for our families and children. A home gives everything else meaning. A home, an address, is like a passport to life. Everything we do is directly connected to our secure sense of home. As we approach Christmas, we wish to appeal to landlords in Cork City and the surrounding areas to come forward and work with Threshold.
“The aim of the programme is to empower and assist people to access accommodation in the private rented sector, through collaboration with local landlords and local authorities. We want to offer dignity, hope and support to those who are struggling to find a place to call home.”
The benefits of the service are evident in the case of one of Threshold’s clients, Lucas*, who had been living in temporary accommodation with his partner and their three children for over a year.
Since Lucas’ family entered temporary accommodation, his mental health had deteriorated and his confidence had hit an all-time low. Lucas was frustrated about his inability to find a home for his family and he had little experience of securing rented accommodation.
Lucas availed of the services of Threshold’s Access Housing Unit in Cork and his family’s circumstances have since greatly improved.
Commenting on the programme, Lucas said: “I met with John from the Access Housing Unit on a regular basis and he taught me many things such as how to speak to landlords, how to carry out viewings and how to draft a cover letter in order to secure a viewing. I was able to consult John on all matters associated with searching for a home. My confidence and mental health improved as a result of the whole process.
“With the help of the Access Housing Unit, we are now living in our new home and we will not have to spend a second Christmas in temporary accommodation. We are very grateful to the Access Housing Unit for the support they continue to provide to us and if it wasn’t for them, we would still be homeless.”
Landlords interested in the service can contact Mairead O’Sullivan on 021 4274164 or 087 7437978 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Threshold’s helpline remains available Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm at 1800 454 454, and via its website at threshold.ie/advice/help for any renter in need of advice or support.