Patrycja Pawlak, who works in catering at Tallaght Hospital, became homeless last April and moved into emergency accommodation along with her daughter.
At first, Pawlak seemed to get lucky. Within weeks she found a place to rent for €1,711 per month, which she could afford using the Homeless HAP rent-subsidy scheme.
The family moved into their new home at the beginning of May. “I couldn’t believe it we were so lucky to find somewhere,” she says
The Homeless HAP scheme covers the deposit and the rent, and the tenant pays rent to the council, which is calculated according to their income. Initially, the council paid two months’ rent up front for Pawlack, emails show.
But on 10 July, Pawlak got a shock when the estate agent called her to say that the rent hadn’t been paid. “If I lose this place there is nowhere else to go,” she says. “It’s so worrying.”
Panicking a bit she dipped into money she had saved for her daughter’s braces and took on extra shifts in work. She scraped together the rent.
But again in August, she got the same call. The council still wasn’t paying the rent. Then she started borrowing money, she says.
Pawlak and her daughter, like others in similar situations, are now at risk of becoming homeless again because the council hasn’t processed their Homeless HAP applications.
A spokesperson for the Department of Housing referred queries regarding the number of Homeless HAP applications currently waiting to be processed to the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE).
The DRHE didn’t respond to queries, sent Friday morning, before publication.
Facing homelessness again
Marzena Juchimiuk was homeless with her partner and children from April until she moved into her current rented home on 15 June.
Like Pawlak, she could afford her place with the help of Homeless HAP. The DRHE paid two months’ rent when she moved in, emails show. But she says it hasn’t paid the rent since.
She had been on the South Dublin County Council housing list for around five years, but the council couldn’t offer her any emergency accommodation, she says.
After a couple of months of sofa surfing, Juchimiuk found an apartment to rent, where the landlord was willing to accept the Homeless HAP subsidy. She was delighted, she says.
But in August, she got a call from her landlord to say that the rent hadn’t been paid. “I was so shocked that I googled all my local TDs,” she says. “I don’t want to be homeless again.”
She has inquired repeatedly by phone and email as well as through public representatives, she says, but she hasn’t received much information.
“My Landlord didn’t get paid by Hap for August I’m in arrears now facing possibility of homelessness again,” she wrote to the Homeless HAP department in the DRHE by email on 3 September.
“I was assured by HAP they will get paid for August and September by the end of the month,” she wrote.
She didn’t receive a response to that email, she says.
Pawlak says she has called the Homeless HAP section of the DRHE repeatedly. “I keep calling them every week,” she says. “They keep saying we are processing it.”
She has run out of options to borrow money and despite working six days a week she won’t be able to pay the rent at the end of this month, she says. “I feel so stressed because I don’t know what will happen next month.”
She feels bad about having used the money she had saved for her daughter’s braces, she says. She applied for Homeless HAP nearly five months ago. “It’s crazy, I don’t know why they can’t sort it out,” says Pawlak.
In November 2020, Victoria Macaria said she ended up in credit card debt after she had to pay for the first three months’ rent after she moved into rental property.
“A 12-week delay is not unheard of or unusual, but delays are dependent on the relevant local authority,” said a spokesperson for Threshold, at the time.
But that was in relation to the ordinary HAP scheme.
The Homeless HAP scheme is supposed to be fast-tracked. To keep save people from homelessness.
A leaflet produced by the DRHE says its placefinder service will “fast track your application to ensure that the new tenancy starts as soon as possible”.
The Department of Housing spokesperson says that between January and March this year, the average time to process a HAP application was 39 days.
“The Department and the local authorities are aware of the importance of minimising HAP processing times and these are kept this under review,” says the spokesperson.