Publication in pdf format - Threshold

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Publication in pdf format - Threshold

financial means to save towards buyinga new home. Many others will benefitin the future as the scheme will changeto provide longer-term accommodationunder the Rental AccommodationScheme.Threshold’s advice centres run educationprogrammes in secondary schools andthird-level colleges, with an emphasison students in disadvantaged areas.We offer information and training tocommunity groups, while at the sametime informing landlords and otherhousing providers on the provisions ofhousing legislation.Threshold seeks to influence housingpolicy in Ireland and provide anindependent voice on housing issues.We contributed significantly to theintroduction of the Residential TenanciesAct 2004, which provides increasedprotections for tenants and landlords inthe private rented sector. Recognisingthat many people in Ireland live in poorhousing we also work to improve thestandards of housing in which vulnerablepeople live.difficulties faced by migrant communitiesin Dublin. We also commenced agroundbreaking study that will measurethe impact of housing advice onpreventing homelessness.We work with other agencies to makethe case for housing reform and topromote best practice. Threshold isengaged in a joint lobbying campaignto end homelessness in Ireland, calledthe MakeRoom campaign, with FocusIreland, the Simon Communities ofIreland and the Society of St. Vincent dePaul. We participate in Homeless Foraand the Community Platform, sit on thePrivate Residential Tenancies Board andwork in close co-operation with CitizensInformation Services. We are membersof the European Anti-Poverty Network,which campaigns at European levelto end poverty and social exclusion.We chair the Private Rented MarketsWorking Group of the EuropeanNetwork for Housing Research. We workclosely with FÁS and employ peopleon Community Employment and JobInitiative schemes.In carrying out research through ourHousing Research Unit, and presentingour findings at local and national levels,Threshold seeks to identify workablesolutions to housing problems. Ourreport ‘Opportunity Knocks: InstitutionalInvestment in the Private Rented Sectorin Ireland’, supported by the IrishBanking Federation, looked at ways ofencouraging Irish financial institutionsto directly invest in the private rentedproperty market, especially at the endof the market providing for householdson modest or low incomes. Reportsunder completion in 2008 includedan examination of the availability ofaffordable accommodation for singleperson households and the housingThreshold Annual Report 2008 3


ContentsChairperson’s statement....................................................................................................................................Director’s statement....................................................................................................................................Our clients are among the most vulnerable people in Ireland....................................................................................................................................Main problems affecting Threshold’s clients....................................................................................................................................Threshold’s campaign issues....................................................................................................................................Positive developments in housing for 2008....................................................................................................................................Some of the people we helped....................................................................................................................................Housing problems by region....................................................................................................................................Breakdown of main advocacy work 2008....................................................................................................................................Dublin and the Eastern region....................................................................................................................................Cork and the Southern region....................................................................................................................................Galway and the Western region....................................................................................................................................Limerick....................................................................................................................................Access Housing Unit....................................................................................................................................Promoting housing reform through research and campaigning....................................................................................................................................Sources of funding....................................................................................................................................Financial report....................................................................................................................................Contact details and staff members....................................................................................................................................Charity shops....................................................................................................................................Board Of Directors....................................................................................................................................57911141719222324262729303335383940414 Threshold Annual Report 2008


Chairperson’s statementAideen Hayden,ChairpersonAfter 30 years of campaigning forhousing rights in Ireland we nowface a period of unprecedentedhousing need. Threshold will workto ensure that the current crisis inour economy does not create morepoverty for our clients but ratherbecomes an opportunity to meettheir needs.Since its foundation 30 years ago,Threshold has worked tirelessly for thosewho are vulnerable, who do not have ahome or who find that home threatenedoften as a result of poverty. We havecampaigned for recognition of theimportant role of housing in our society.The right to a home – and not simplyshelter – is a fundamental right. In thewords of Threshold’s founder Fr. DonalO’Mahony:“A home is more than having a roofover your head, a person may havean address and a door key but if theyare living in overcrowded conditions,without basic facilities in unsanitaryconditions, if they are cold becausethey cannot heat themselves, if theyface eviction, if they are poor and can’treasonably afford rent then it is onlyright to call that person homeless.”Threshold’s mission began in the privaterented sector because that was wherethe most vulnerable lived 30 years ago,plagued by discrimination, arbitraryevictions, unrestricted demands for rentincreases, harassment of tenants, failureto carry out repairs and poorliving conditions.The poorest people in Ireland still livein the rented sector; indeed todayrent supplement in private renting hasreplaced council housing as the main wayto meet the housing needs of the poor.Threshold’s work is today concentratedin the private rented sector becausethat is where the people who most needour help still live. Many of Threshold’sclients would like to be home owners orcouncil tenants. Threshold works not justto improve standards for those who rentbut to ensure that all of our clients haveaccess to the home they deserve.Much has changed in the last 30 years.There has been significant and positivelegislative change through the ResidentialTenancies Act 2004, increased socialhousing build in the last number ofyears, improved options for less welloff people to access home ownershipand the introduction of improvedminimum standards legislation which willcontribute greatly to the quality of rentedhousing in Ireland. Perhaps one of themost important changes is significantlyimproved guidelines for apartmentbuilding, which will ultimately meanthat some of the most vulnerable peoplein Irish society will not be living in thetenements of the future.However we now face a watershed,our economy is in crisis, the fears of aslow down have been realised and theconstruction sector faces perhaps itsgreatest challenge in the history of thestate. At the same time we are facingunprecedented need, we have over56,000 households on the housingwaiting list many of whom are livingin poverty. Moreover we have 91,000households receiving rent supplementand countless more that are the workingpoor whose incomes have been severelyreduced by the economic downturn andwho increasingly cannot afford to rent.It is cold comfort to these people tohear that we have over 200,000 vacantproperties in the state many of whichwill end up as part of the National AssetManagement Agency. We must addressthis housing deficit and this can only beThreshold Annual Report 2008 5


achieved through determination andinnovative responses. Reliance on PartV of the Planning and DevelopmentAct, which in the past ensured that aproportion of all housing build wentto social and affordable housing, willachieve nothing when no housing isbeing built. It is the ultimate irony thatwhen people most need housing theconstruction sector is least able toprovide it.Local authorities must again play a moredirect role in meeting housing need. Theymust not simply act as enablers, matchingmarket with need through mechanismslike Part V, but must direct and controlthe solutions to our housing problems.Indeed we must go further and the timehas come to establish a national housingagency to secure land, build housingand integrate homelessness policy withall other housing strategies. Thresholdwill work to ensure that the current crisisin our economy does not create morepoverty but presents an opportunityfor our clients. An opportunity to breakdown the barriers faced by the mostmarginalised in accessing a home of theirown. An opportunity to change prioritiesaway from a housing system which builttoo much housing for the few, who didn’tneed homes but investment propertiesnever to be lived in. An opportunity forthis society to build homes for the peoplewho need them, in places where theywant to live and at prices they can afford.that there is always something that canbe done, no matter how difficult thecircumstances. If you are in need or knowsomeone who is in need of help or adviceor indeed a friendly and professional earremember that we are there.I would like to thank Threshold’s Boardand staff, including our many volunteerswho give of their time freely. It hasbeen a difficult year for us as a frontlineservice and our continued success inhelping people would not be possible butfor the commitment of everyone in theorganisation. I would also like to thankour many funders and donors withoutwhom our service would not be possible.Aideen Hayden,ChairpersonAs can be seen from the pages of thisreport Threshold was there for over20,000 people who needed our servicesin 2008. It is clear that, for many peoplewho come to us, we make the differencebetween keeping and losing a home.Our intervention for people at risk ofhomelessness is successful in over 90% ofcases and we are proud of the differencewe make. We in Threshold believe6 Threshold Annual Report 2008


Director’s statementBob Jordan,DirectorAt a time when the country is facingthe greatest economic recession in itshistory, Threshold is a frontline serviceprovider that helps people with housingproblems when they need us most. Lastyear, Threshold’s advice centres in Cork,Dublin, Galway and Limerick dealt with20,136 questions and problems frompeople all over Ireland. Our advisorssee people when they are at the mostvulnerable, when they have nowhereto stay for the night, when they can’tget back a €1,000 deposit from theirlandlord, when they have used up alltheir savings and credit and are fallinginto arrears. It is our intervention thathelps them to overcome these problems.Our services are particularly focusedon vulnerable people, who withoutour help would face the prospectof homelessness. Our advisors letpeople know what their rights andresponsibilities are, explain theirhousing options and help them resolveproblems in their accommodation. Wehelp clients negotiate with councils,landlords and lenders.We recognise that one problem can leadto another, and our advisors help peopleto link with other supports, includingwelfare, health, mental health, addiction,literacy and community services.Threshold also offers specialist supportservices to particularly vulnerablegroups, including homeless people,older people and migrant communities.We prevent homelessness by interveningat critical stages and helping peopleto take the right action. Threshold’sinvolvement is often enough to cause achange of heart in a difficult situation.We help people to keep their currenthome. Affordability problems includingarrears and loss of income threatenpeople’s tenancies. Early interventionis the key. We help people face up tothe problem of arrears and to negotiaterepayments. If they’ve lost their job, weget them the help they are entitled to.When people are being asked to leavetheir accommodation, we negotiate withtheir landlord so they can remain intheir home or have enough time to find anew place. We also support people whoare being forced out or evicted fromtheir home.We help people when they are leavingtheir accommodation. People who havea legal agreement with their landlordcannot just terminate their tenancy andwe advise them on the best course ofaction. We tell people how to give propernotice. We help many people to getback their deposit if it has been withheldunfairly. This was the single biggest issuefaced by tenants in 2008, as the numberof queries to Threshold more thandoubled from 1,603 in 2007 to3,688 in 2008.We help people to find a place to live.In city centres and other areas wherecheap accommodation is scarce, peopleon a budget, vulnerable people and olderpeople seek our help with house hunting.In 2008, we dealt with almost 2,000queries from people who needed ourhelp in this way. We help people in crisisand people who are homeless to find abed for the night and then we work tofind them a longer-term home. We helppeople who want to buy their own placeto access one of the government’s homeownership schemes.Despite tough times, we continued todevelop our services in 2008, expandingour work to provide housing services.We now provide property managementand tenancy sustainment services, inpartnership with Cork City Council,Threshold Annual Report 2008 7


of non-Irish nationals live in the privaterented sector. This is also reflectedin Threshold’s work. In 2008, 31% ofour clients were born outside Irelandand over a quarter (26%) did not haveEnglish as a first language. Most haveno experience of renting in Ireland andare often on tight budgets. We helpedtenants from over a hundred countriesand most queries were received frompeople from Poland, UK, Nigeria,France and Italy.Number Of Queries FromNon-Irish Nationals12001000Poland1,0488006004002000UK269 Nigeria186France116Italy11610 Threshold Annual Report 2008


Main problems affectingThreshold’s clients3,688200820071,9751,6031,7101,7781,4761,0121,0091,142980677674603272423 475Deposit retention Given invalid notice Illegal eviction Tenancy terminationHousing options AffordabilityStandardsrepairs Landlordagent breachThe main problems experienced byThreshold’s clients are outlined in thechart above and compared with our2007 statistics. In each of these cases,Threshold made a direct intervention onbehalf of the client.Failure To Return RentDeposits Remains TheBiggest ProblemThe most significant problemexperienced by tenants in 2008 was thenon-return of rent deposits. The numberof deposit queries received by Thresholdmore than doubled last year, from 1,603in 2007 to 3,688 in 2008.Threshold’s experience is that theeconomic downturn has generated moredeposit disputes between landlordsand tenants. A culture has existed inthe private rented sector where somelandlords routinely refuse to returndeposits. This is exacerbated in thecurrent climate because many landlordsare themselves struggling and cannotafford to repay deposits. Unfortunatelythe failure to return a deposit unjustlycan place a vulnerable person at risk ofhomelessness or at the very least make itdifficult to secure another home. Manytenants on low incomes save in order topay deposits and can ill-afford to losesuch substantial sums. Landlords are alsomore willing to claim breaches by tenantsas a reason to withhold deposits in thecurrent climate.Half of all deposit disputes betweenlandlords and tenants related to thecondition of the property at the end ofThreshold Annual Report 2008 11


the tenancy. Landlords can withholddeposit money only if the property hasbeen damaged beyond normal wear andtear. A quarter (25%) of disputes relatedto the termination of lease agreementsby tenants. Other disputes related to thenotice given by tenants and outstandingrent and utility bills.Threshold intervenes by informingboth landlords and tenants of the validgrounds a deposit can be retained andthe necessary evidence both partiesrequire. This often forms the basis of anegotiated outcome. We resolve 84% ofdisputes in this way, without the needto take further action. Almost half (48%)of deposit queries in 2008 were fromnon-Irish nationals.Illegal EvictionsThe most serious threat to a tenant’ssecurity in their home is illegal eviction.This occurs when a tenant is forcedout of their home through physicalintimidation or the locks being changed.In 2008, we dealt with an increasednumber of completed illegal evictions,196 in 2008 compared with 141 in 2007.We prevented a further 813 threatenedevictions. Threshold’s Illegal EvictionUnit, established in 2007, helps tenantsfaced with the threat of eviction and alsooperates out-of-hours as many evictionsoccur in the evening or weekends.What issues led to tenants being illegallyevicted ? In two-thirds (66%) of casesthere was a breakdown in the relationshipbetween landlord and tenant. Themajority involved tenants who did notbreach their obligations. For example,tenants who asked their landlord tocarry out repairs or provide their PPSN.Some landlords sought to immediatelyrecover the property to sell or to re-let.A small number involved anti-socialbehaviour, for example, a house party.Rent arrears featured in just over athird (34%) of illegal eviction cases.Unfortunately in many such cases thelandlord did not use legal means toreclaim the property. Threshold advisorshave noted that a feature of the currentdownturn is that tenants with relativelysmall arrears are being forced from theirhome. Of the cases of illegal evictioninvolving rent arrears, 36 tenants oweda months rent or less, while 13 tenantsowed more than a month’s rent. Thelowest level of arrears was €50 and thehighest €4,500. In a minority of cases,the landlord’s perception that the tenantmay be unable to pay rent in the futurewas enough to trigger an illegal eviction,for example, where the tenant seeks arent reduction or where the tenant has anextended stay in hospital.Invalid NoticeTenants approach Threshold for helpto ensure that they receive the periodof notice they are entitled to under law.This gives them enough time to findalternative accommodation. Parents, forexample, might need time to find newschools for children. Tenants are entitledto increasing periods of notice dependingon how long they have lived in a rentedhome. A tenant of a property of over4 years, for example, is entitled to 112days notice. We also ensure that tenantsreceive a notice which is in writing andis in accordance with the ResidentialTenancies Act.After a period of 6 months, a landlordcan only issue notice to a tenant toleave for certain reasons provided inlaw. Threshold ensures that the reasonsgiven by landlords are valid. If the tenantdoubts that the reason given by thelandlord is valid, we help the tenant to12 Threshold Annual Report 2008


challenge the notice. In our experience,there is a lack of knowledge among manylandlords, agents and their legal representativesof the notice requirements ofthe Residential Tenancies Act.SubstandardAccommodationThreshold plays an important role inproviding support to tenants living insubstandard accommodation. A total of980 people living in poor or substandardaccommodation sought Threshold’s helpwith improvements and repairs in 2008.Threshold welcomes early indicationsthat standards of accommodation areimproving but believes that the numberof such cases is still far too high. Themost common problems related todampness and heating systems thatwere ineffective, faulty or could not becontrolled by the tenant. Other issuesincluded a lack of hot and cold runningwater and vermin infestation.Seeking HousingAlmost 2,000 people sought Threshold’shelp to find accommodation in 2008.The main difficulty experienced byclients was the challenge of findingaffordable accommodation. The fall inrents nationally helped alleviate the worstof the crisis faced by some clients in 2008but many others struggled because theiraccess to extra income through overtimehours and part-time work was severelycurtailed. Therefore no matter how muchrents decreased, for some of those worstaffected by the recession they simplydid not fall far enough. This problemwas particularly acute for those who areloosely defined as the ‘working poor’because they get no assistance withrent at all.did so because they struggled to findaccommodation within the rent limitsallowed under the rent supplementscheme. This difficulty is particularlyacute for single people and lone parentswith one child. This group compete withothers on low incomes at the lower endof the market particularly for bed- sitstyle accommodation where the limits aretoo low to secure good quality property.Accommodation SolutionsThreshold’s advice offices help peoplein vulnerable situations to find housing.Our offices in Cork and Galway offerplacement services to people who needour help to find housing. We providedaily lists of properties for let and contactlandlords. We also help people to applyfor rent supplement support.Threshold’s Access Housing Unit(AHU) in Dublin is a project run inconjunction with the Homeless Agencythat specifically helps people who arehomeless or in danger of homelessnessto find housing and ensures that bothlandlords and tenants are facilitated insustaining a tenancy.Many clients who sought our helpThreshold Annual Report 2008 13


Threshold’s campaign issuesDeposit Protection SchemeThreshold believes that a depositprotection scheme would greatlyimprove the operation of the privaterented sector in Ireland. Thresholdmade submissions in 2008 to boththe Department of the Environment,Heritage and Local Government and tothe Private Residential Tenancies Boardon the possible introduction of a DepositProtection Scheme.Such a scheme would ensure thattenant’s deposits are held by anindependent body and not by individuallandlords or their agents. It wouldprotect both landlords and tenantsand provide greater security for thesignificant amount of monies paid overin deposits by both individual tenantsand for the state who pay deposits forrent supplement tenants. Interest earnedcould be used to finance both the serviceand dispute resolution generally onlandlord and tenant issues.Threshold welcomes the recentcommitment by the Minister for Housingto examine such a proposal within thecontext of a review of the ResidentialTenancies Act 2004.Reform Of RentSupplementThe economic downturn and job lossesled to considerable increases in thenumbers needing state help with theirrent in 2008, from 60,000 in January to84,000 by year end. Figures for 2009are likely to exceed 100,000. Thresholdmade recommendations that wouldimprove the scheme and the quality oflife of tenants.Payment should also be made directlyto the landlord. This would place rentsupplement tenants on an equal footingwith the rest of the private rented sector.Rent supplement is currently paid at theend of the month and a landlord mayhave to wait for up to six weeks beforetheir first payment. Reforming thescheme would attract more landlords,leading to greater choice and betterquality accommodation for tenants.Furthermore, the payment of rentsupplement to landlords should be tiedwith compliance with the law, includingregistration with the PRTB, standardsregulations and fire safety. As it stands,many landlords who benefit from thescheme do not comply with theseregulations. This represents bad valuefor both tenants and the state.The Department of Social and FamilyAffairs has targeted rent supplementto make savings. Threshold urgesthe Department to reform how rentsupplement is paid so that recipients canavail of the better quality housing nowavailable in the rented market.Importance Of HousingAdvice In PreventingHomelessnessThreshold also made submissions tothe Department of the Environment,Heritage and Local Government and tothe Homeless Agency, highlighting theimportant role played by independenthousing advice in preventinghomelessness and seeking the formalinclusion of advice services in the rolloutof both the national homelessstrategy and the revised homelessaction plan for Dublin.We called for rent supplement to bepaid in advance and not in arrears.14 Threshold Annual Report 2008


Positive developments inhousing for 2008A number of positive developmentstook place in 2008 for people in need ofhousing and those living in the privaterented sector:Housing (MiscellaneousProvisions) Bill, 2008The Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions)Bill 2008 published in July 2008 isan important piece of legislation thatprovides a framework for the housingservices provided by local authorities,including in tackling homelessness. Itintroduces changes to the provision ofsocial housing, including the housingneeds assessment and allocationschemes for local authority housing. Itprovides a legislative basis for the RentalAccommodation Scheme and incrementalpurchase schemes. It also provides forlocal anti-social behaviour strategies.Threshold as a member of MakeRoom,a homeless campaigning alliance withFocus Ireland, the Simon Communitiesof Ireland and the Society of St Vincentde Paul, sought the inclusion ofmeasures to tackle homelessness in theBill. We welcome the amendments tothe Bill introduced by the Minister forHousing and Local Services, includingthe new statutory requirements onlocal authorities to establish HomelessConsultative Fora in their administrativearea and to produce Local HomelessAction Plans.New minimumstandards for rentedaccommodationThreshold has highlighted the problemof substandard accommodation inthe private rented sector over manyyears and we have called for improvedstandards to reflect modern livingconditions. We therefore warmlywelcome new standards for privaterented accommodation introducedin the Housing (Standards for RentedHouses) Regulations 2008. Weparticularly welcome the phasing outof the traditional bedsit, with sharedtoilet and bathroom facilities, as thisform of accommodation is unacceptable.We hope that the new regulations willgive impetus to landlords and localauthorities to address poor standardaccommodation.Threshold acknowledges thecommitment of the Minister for Housingand Local Services, Michael FinneranT.D., and his Department in followingthrough on the regulation of minimumstandards. We also welcome theco-operation with local authorities andlandlord bodies who participated in thedesign of the new standards.Publication of theNational HomelessStrategy ‘The Way Home’and the Revised HomelessAction Plan for Dublin‘Pathway to Home’The Way Home, a new strategy toaddress adult homelessness in Ireland,2008 to 2013, was published in August2008. The strategy has the key aimsof eliminating long-term occupationof emergency homeless facilities,eliminating the need to sleep roughand preventing the occurrence ofhomelessness as far as possible.Pathway to Home is a new modeldeveloped by the Homeless AgencyPartnership to deliver more effectivehomeless services and better access tohousing to end long-term homelessnessin Dublin. The Pathway to HomeThreshold Annual Report 2008 15


model consists of prevention services,temporary accommodation servicesand housing with supports. Thresholdwelcomes the particular focus on thelong-term provision of housing for peoplewho are homeless.Establishment of NationalProperty ServicesRegulatory AuthorityThreshold welcomes the ongoingpassage through the Houses of theOireachtas of the Property Service(Regulation) Bill, which establishes theNational Property Services RegulatoryAuthority (NPSRA).The Bill proposes a new regulatoryframework for letting agents. Manyletting agents now act without a licenceand outside the law. We welcomethe preliminary work undertaken bythe NPSRA in advance of its formalestablishment.inappropriately.Threshold welcomes the commitmentby Revenue and the Department thattenants should not be penalised for taxowed by their landlord.Introduction of the‘Home Choice’ affordablehousing initiativesThe Home Choice Loan scheme is aresponse to the needs of those firsttime-buyers who would ordinarily haveobtained mortgage finance but cannotdo so because of the credit crunch. TheGovernment lends 92 per cent of thepurchase price of a newly-built house topurchasers that fall within the qualifyinglimits. This initiative will help first-timebuyers on modest incomes who wish totake advantage of lower house prices toget on the housing ladder.Clarification of tenants’liability for the tax owedby their overseas landlordThis was an issue highlighted in our lastAnnual Report and we welcome thecommitments given to Threshold by theDepartment of Finance and the RevenueCommissioners that tenants will nolonger be automatically penalised for thetax owed by their overseas landlord.The Taxes Consolidation Act containsa safeguard provision to stop overseaslandlords from evading their incometax liabilities. Under this provision,tenants are required to account for theirlandlord’s tax liability. Threshold broughtto the Revenue Commissioners’ attentioncase studies of tenants, unaware oftheir liability or unaware of where theirlandlord resided, who were penalised16 Threshold Annual Report 2008


Positive developmentsin housing for 2008A number of positive developmentstook place in 2008 for people in need ofhousing and those living in the privaterented sector:Housing (MiscellaneousProvisions) Bill, 2008The Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions)Bill 2008 published in July 2008 isan important piece of legislation thatprovides a framework for the housingservices provided by local authorities,including in tackling homelessness. Itintroduces changes to the provision ofsocial housing, including the housingneeds assessment and allocationschemes for local authority housing. Itprovides a legislative basis for the RentalAccommodation Scheme and incrementalpurchase schemes. It also provides forlocal anti-social behaviour strategies.Threshold as a member of MakeRoom,a homeless campaigning alliance withFocus Ireland, the Simon Communitiesof Ireland and the Society of St Vincentde Paul, sought the inclusion ofmeasures to tackle homelessness in theBill. We welcome the amendments tothe Bill introduced by the Minister forHousing and Local Services, includingthe new statutory requirements onlocal authorities to establish HomelessConsultative Fora in their administrativearea and to produce Local HomelessAction Plans.New minimumstandards for rentedaccommodationThreshold has highlighted the problemof substandard accommodation inthe private rented sector over manyyears and we have called for improvedstandards to reflect modern livingconditions. We therefore warmlywelcome new standards for privaterented accommodation introducedin the Housing (Standards for RentedHouses) Regulations 2008. Weparticularly welcome the phasing outof the traditional bedsit, with sharedtoilet and bathroom facilities, as thisform of accommodation is unacceptable.We hope that the new regulations willgive impetus to landlords and localauthorities to address poor standardaccommodation.Threshold acknowledges thecommitment of the Minister for Housingand Local Services, Michael FinneranT.D., and his Department in followingthrough on the regulation of minimumstandards. We also welcome theco-operation with local authorities andlandlord bodies who participated in thedesign of the new standards.Publication of theNational HomelessStrategy ‘The Way Home’and the Revised HomelessAction Plan for Dublin‘Pathway to Home’The Way Home, a new strategy toaddress adult homelessness in Ireland,2008 to 2013, was published in August2008. The strategy has the key aimsof eliminating long-term occupationof emergency homeless facilities,eliminating the need to sleep roughand preventing the occurrence ofhomelessness as far as possible.Pathway to Home is a new modeldeveloped by the Homeless AgencyPartnership to deliver more effectivehomeless services and better access tohousing to end long-term homelessnessin Dublin. The Pathway to Homemodel consists of prevention services,temporary accommodation servicesThreshold Annual Report 2008 17


and housing with supports. Thresholdwelcomes the particular focus on thelong-term provision of housing for peoplewho are homeless.Establishment of NationalProperty ServicesRegulatory AuthorityThreshold welcomes the ongoingpassage through the Houses of theOireachtas of the Property Service(Regulation) Bill, which establishes theNational Property Services RegulatoryAuthority (NPSRA).The Bill proposes a new regulatoryframework for letting agents. Manyletting agents now act without a licenceand outside the law. We welcomethe preliminary work undertaken bythe NPSRA in advance of its formalestablishment.Threshold welcomes the commitmentby Revenue and the Department thattenants should not be penalised for taxowed by their landlord.Introduction of the‘Home Choice’ affordablehousing initiativesThe Home Choice Loan scheme is aresponse to the needs of those firsttime-buyers who would ordinarily haveobtained mortgage finance but cannotdo so because of the credit crunch. TheGovernment lends 92 per cent of thepurchase price of a newly-built house topurchasers that fall within the qualifyinglimits. This initiative will help first-timebuyers on modest incomes who wish totake advantage of lower house prices toget on the housing ladder.Clarification of tenants’liability for the tax owedby their overseas landlordThis was an issue highlighted in our lastAnnual Report and we welcome thecommitments given to Threshold by theDepartment of Finance and the RevenueCommissioners that tenants will nolonger be automatically penalised for thetax owed by their overseas landlord.The Taxes Consolidation Act containsa safeguard provision to stop overseaslandlords from evading their incometax liabilities. Under this provision,tenants are required to account for theirlandlord’s tax liability. Threshold broughtto the Revenue Commissioners’ attentioncase studies of tenants, unaware oftheir liability or unaware of where theirlandlord resided, who were penalisedinappropriately.18 Threshold Annual Report 2008


Some of the people we helpedEduardo andAdriana’s StoryEduardo and Adriana, a Brazilian couplestudying in Dublin, felt they werebeing charged an excessive amount forelectricity and a dispute arose whenthey requested copies of the bills. In themiddle of December they arrived hometo find the locks had been changed.They contacted the landlord’s agentwho allowed them access to remove alltheir belongings. For the next two nightsEduardo and Adriana slept in their carwhilst their belongings were left onthe street.When they first came to Threshold’sDublin advice centre, we contactedtheir landlord to have them reinstated.He would not agree to this, but we didsecure the return of their rent deposit.We then supported Eduardo andAdriana to take further action throughthe PRTB where a resolution was found.They are now settled in alternativeaccommodation.Pat and Jacinta’s StoryPat and Jacinta called in to our CorkAdvice Centre in October seeking ourassistance with the refund of a €950deposit. They had recently left theirrented accommodation to move in withPat’s parents after he had lost his job.The landlord’s agent had confirmed theproperty had been left in good order andpromised he would refund the depositonce he received confirmation that allbills were paid. They submitted therelevant receipts but were still awaitingthe deposit.An advisor contacted the agent whoinformed her that they were awaitingconfirmation of all bills paid. Weinformed them that these had alreadybeen submitted but agreed to submitthem again. Two weeks passed and Pathad still not received the €950.The advisor wrote to the manager of theagency giving a detailed account of theinteraction to date and informing themthat if the deposit was not refundedThreshold would take further action.Pat and Jacinta received full payment bycheque within days.Our advisor was able to help Pat andJacinta look at the housing options opento them and explained that they couldapply for rent supplement. Given theircircumstances, living in a overcrowdedsmall house with Pat’s parents, theywere also advised to make a housingapplication to Cork City Council.Although it would take time, this wouldgive them more security and perhaps anopportunity to own their own home inthe long term.Michael’s StoryThreshold’s Older Person’s worker in ourGalway office first met Michael, aged 61in September 2008. Michael was at riskof becoming homeless as he had falleninto rent arrears.Michael could not afford to pay rent fromhis limited income. He had applied forrent supplement, but in order to qualify,he needed to have a housing assessmentcarried out by the local authority. Thiscould take up to four months. Until thisassessment was carried out, Michaelhad to pay his rent out of his socialwelfare payment. This was too difficultto manage and he fell into arrears. Healso could not afford to pay for heatingor cooking and had to wrap himself in aduvet to keep warm.Threshold spoke to Michael’s landlord toThreshold Annual Report 2008 19


outline the efforts Michael was taking toget rent supplement and the support wewere giving him. We asked the landlordnot to give him notice. When we outlinedto the local authority the circumstancesof this case, he was promptly assessedand awarded rent supplement inDecember 2008. He is now settled andliving comfortably in his rented home.Sarah’s StorySarah was living in private rentedaccommodation and approached ourDublin office for help. The landlordsought to terminate the tenancy becauseof problems with the general upkeep ofthe property. Sarah was a young singleparent struggling with three youngchildren and no family support structurearound her. Threshold successfullychallenged the notice given by thelandlord and we negotiated more timeto deal with minor repair issues. At theend of 2008 Sarah was still living in theproperty and the relationship with herlandlord is good.The Threshold advisor who helped Sarahfelt that she was extremely vulnerable.Without Threshold’s support, she wouldhave left the property even if she hadnowhere else to go. The next step forSarah is to seek to be included in theRAS programme which would giveher more security and more suitableaccommodation. Our advisors willcontinue to assist her.of arrears of €3,000 during a particularlybad period of his life.During these 20 years, Ronan’s wifepassed away and his children were rearedin emergency accommodation. Ronanlost his sense of independence havingbeen moved on various occasions fromone B&B to another resulting in a loss ofsecurity while all the while endeavouringto provide a safe and secure environmentand carry on with ‘normal’ family life.Ronan is now settled in a high standardsingle accommodation. He has a closerelationship with his children who haveall since married and set up their ownhomes. The Access Housing Unit foundRonan an extremely resilient individual.He has voiced on more than one occasionhis inability to express the depth of hisemotions and feelings on finally havinghis own home where he can now enjoyhis collection of ‘Big Band Sounds’ andhis love of cooking. It is a testament toRonan that he has managed to remainpositive and keep his sense of humourthroughout what many people wouldhave found an impossible situation.Ronan’s storyRonan is a 76 year old man living in thenorth side of Dublin City. He came to theAccess Housing Unit in 2008 having livedwith his wife and children in homelessservices since the end of the 1980’s.This was as a result of losing his localauthority home through the accumulation20 Threshold Annual Report 2008


Brendan’s storyBrendan was one of our Limerick clientswho contacted Threshold in February2008. He left a tenancy the previousmonth having lived there for three years.€800 of his €1,100 deposit wasretained. Despite attempts to find outwhy he was only told it was due to thestate of the property. Brendan was surethat he owed no rent and that no damagewas caused.Threshold phoned the landlord’s agentto negotiate the return of the depositbut this was refused. A follow up letterhowever resulted in the deposit beingreturned within a day of receipt.Brendan felt that it was the reputation ofThreshold that ensured he got back therest of the money.Threshold Annual Report 2008 21


Housing problems by regionDublinCork5%8%10%4%38%Deposit retention 38Given invalid notice 17Illegal eviction 13Other 10Standardsrepairs 8Affordability 58%8%8%4%5%29%Deposit retention 29Housing options 18Other 11Given invalid notice 9Affordability 8Standardsrepairs 813%17%Tenancy termination 4Landlordagent breach 4Housing options 19%11%18%Tenancy termination 8Illegal eviction 5Landlordagent breach 4GalwayLimerick12%7%1%1%7%26%4% 1% Housing options 26Deposit retention 19Other 15Given invalid notice 12Affordability 122%6%6%6%7%37%Housing options 37Deposit retention 20Given invalid notice 9Standardsrepairs 7Landlordagent breach 712%15%19%Illegal eviction 7Standardsrepairs 7Tenancy termination 1Landlordagent breach 17%9%20%Affordability 6Illegal eviction 6Other 6Tenancy termination 222 Threshold Annual Report 2008


Breakdown of Main Advocacy Work 2008Cork Dublin Galway Limerick TotalDepositRetention1,582 1,458 513 135 3,688Housingoptions *957 54 715 249 1,975Given invalidnotice461 639 313 63 1,476Illegaleviction290 489 187 43 1,009Standardsand repairs453 294 184 49 980Tenancytermination434 137 19 13 603Landlord/agent breach196 154 29 44 423Rent arrears**195 117 81 4 397Rentsupplement/mortgageinterest **117 20 196 30 363Review ofrent ** 133 69 46 4 252Other 575 381 400 41 1,397Notes:* Housing placement services in Dublin weredelivered by the Access Housing Unit. In Cork,Galway and Limerick they were delivered by thelocal advice centres.** The affordability figure in the chart on page 9combines figures for rent arrears, rent supplement/mortgage interest and review of rent shown hereThreshold Annual Report 2008 23


Dublin and the Eastern RegionSize of the private rentedsector in Dublin and theeastern region:Leinster countiesDublin 88,454Kildare 7,869Meath 4,291Westmeath 4,078Louth 3,671Carlow 2,626Kilkenny 2,471Laois 1,891Longford 1,879Offaly 1,793OverviewThreshold’s advice centre in Dublin dealtwith 9,090 queries in 2008. There wasan increased demand for our serviceparticularly from vulnerable clients whorequired assistance to bring disputesto the Private Residential TenanciesBoard. To help achieve this with limitedresources two teams were established.The first team, the advice and advocacyteam, provides initial advice andintervention to try to resolve problemsas and when they arise. This stage isvital as a phone call from a Thresholdadviser could help get back a deposit orprevent an illegal eviction. The secondteam focuses upon dealing with moreserious cases requiring greater input andproviding free representation for clientswho refer their disputes to the PrivateResidential Tenancies Board.Advice andAdvocacy TeamThreshold’s provides a unique andspecialist service. The focus of theadvice and advocacy team is to supportclients to help resolve their tenancyproblems themselves but where requiredThreshold can intervene and advocateon behalf of the client. Through our earlyinterventions Threshold significantlyhelps resolve disputes saving the clientadditional worry, time, and costs thatwould be incurred if legal action wasrequired.The value of Threshold’s interventionsis most evident in the 1,128 advocacycases where a tenant’s security of tenureis threatened either through a noticeof termination being issued or beingillegally threatened. The query could bea phone call from a distressed tenant toan adviser late on a Friday because theirlandlord has demanded that they are outthat evening as they are in rent arrears.It could mean arriving home to find thatthe locks have been changed and thebelongings put out or being forciblyremoved from the property.Illegal evictions are fraught situationsbut even at this late stage a call froma Threshold adviser can help preventhomelessness. It is the experience of ouradvisers that very often, landlords are notaware of the proper procedures to end atenancy where there are rent arrears oranti social behavior. We alert them to thelegal procedures available to them andpoint out the potential consequences ifan illegal eviction is carried out. Moreoften than not, this approach succeeds.PRTB TeamThe PRTB team provided free assistanceto 163 clients who referred their disputesto the Private Residential Tenancies24 Threshold Annual Report 2008


Board in 2008. There are many reasonswhy clients turn to Threshold forassistance.Many of our clients do not have the skillsneeded to advocate on their own behalf.Just over 50% of our clients, for example,were not Irish. Involvement in a legalprocess is daunting adding additionalpressure to an already stressful landlordand tenant relationship. In a survey of50 cases where Threshold representedclients in 2008, 66% of landlordswere represented by an agent or legalrepresentative. Most of Thresholdsclients would not be able to engagelegal services and without Thresholdshelp these clients would be severelydisadvantaged.We represented tenants at 65 depositPRTB hearings in 2008 while a further41 clients referred a dispute becausethey did not receive valid notice oftermination. Threshold assisted 30tenants who had been illegally evictedfrom their home.Polish ServiceThe Office of the Minister for Integrationprovided Threshold with funding for anadvice and advocacy service to mainlyPolish nationals. Threshold was ableto employ a person to deliver a serviceprimarily to the Polish Community-thelargest non English speaking communityin Ireland.In addition to the advice and advocacywork workshops and seminars wereattended, advice articles appeared inPolish media, training was providedand information in other languages wasdistributed. This service was hugelysuccessful and it almost doubled thenumber of Polish clients who contactedus from 564 in 2007 to 1,048 in 2008.Threshold Annual Report 2008 25


Cork and the Southern RegionSize of the private rentedsector in Cork and theSouthern Region :Munster countiesCork 25,149Limerick 10,053Kerry 5,571Waterford 5,400Tipperary 4,462Clare 3,364During 2008, Cork Threshold dealt with5,393 housing queries. Cork Thresholdrepresented tenants at 64 cases beforethe Private Residential Tenancies Board.Main queries dealt withby Cork ThresholdWith the recession hitting everyonetowards the end of the year with joblosses on the increase or working hoursbeing cut, the loss of a deposit – normallyone month’s rent – is a huge loss forvulnerable groups. We have seen asubstantial increase in the incidence oflandlords retaining deposits without validreason.Many landlords and agents are unawareof the limited circumstances that depositscan be withheld. On a regular basisadvisers contact landlords or their agentsand remind them of their obligationsunder the Residential Tenancies Act.Advisers regularly successfully negotiatethe return of deposits for clients,allowing them to move on to alternativeaccommodation and to move forward intheir lives.vulnerable people looking for housing.The majority are single people. Familyaccommodation is easier to find andfamilies receive more help from stateservices and look to Threshold for helpless frequently. They may have beenissued with notice by their landlord,spent a few days in homeless services orrecently left a state institution, such as acare home or prison.We help clients in a number of ways. Ifan invalid or non-effective notice hasbeen served, we help them to challengethis. We assist clients to apply for socialhousing or for rent supplement. Thereality is that single people are rarelyallocated local authority housing, so theprivate rented sector is their only option.If they are homeless or have been gettingrent supplement for 18 months or longer,they may also qualify for the RentalAccommodation Scheme (RAS). Forpeople over the age of 65 years, we referthem to specialised housing services forolder people (e.g. SHARE).We search for rented accommodationthrough local newspapers and wekeep a list of landlords who accept rentsupplement. We look at what the clientcan afford and their preferred locationand we try to match their aspirationswith the reality of the rented market. Webelieve however that some clients wouldbenefit from additional support becausethey have experienced difficultiesin more than one tenancy due to acombination of poor quality housingand limited life skills. We have soughtadditional resources to accompanyvulnerable clients to viewings ofproperties and to be in a position to givethem more tenancy support. This supportis vital to people at risk of homelessness.Threshold’s accommodation andplacement service provides support to26 Threshold Annual Report 2008


Galway and the Western RegionSize of the private rentedsector in Galway and theWestern Region:Galway and thewestern regionGalway 15,877Sligo 4,283Mayo 3,599Donegal 2,703Roscommon 1,713Cavan 1,483Leitrim 1,167Monaghan 866During 2008, Threshold in Galway dealtwith 4,133 housing queries. Over half(51%) of our clients were in receipt of asocial welfare payment or a grant as theirmain source of income, while the majorityof the remainder could be classed as lowearners. Our advocacy service coveredthe whole western region in 2008 and werepresented tenants at PRTB hearings inGalway, Athlone, Castlebar and Carrickon-Shannon.This is the first full year of our OlderPersons Project. We worked with 356older clients, helping several of themleave inadequate or unsuitable housingand to access appropriate good qualityhousing suitable to their needs. Otherissues which arose in the Older PersonsProject included essential repairs, alarmsystems and accessing free telephoneand T.V. licence. The Older PersonsWorker also gave talks to retirementorganisations and older personsorganisations on housing options forolder people.Threshold in Galway providesconsiderable support to peoplearound their housing options. We helppeople who are homeless or at riskof homelessness to look at the besthousing options for them. The vastmajority are not in contact with otherhomeless services, rather they cometo us either just before or after theyhave lost their home, for example, dueto marital separation or rent arrears.We can help them to access temporaryaccommodation (e.g. bed and breakfast)while we help them find longer-termhousing.The most common options are privaterented accommodation, local authorityhousing and the Rental AccommodationScheme (RAS). We help clients toapply for local authority housing andto seek updates on their application.Our placement service helps peopleto find rented accommodation in theright location and at the right price.We discuss the client’s accommodationneeds, contact landlords and arrangeviewings. Where a client is older orvulnerable, we go along with them. Wealso provide newspapers and a phone topeople who would like to make their owncalls.We also assist people with issues aroundaffordability, including rent arrears, rentincreases and welfare payments. Wehelps tenants in arrears by give themadvice on making repayments and bynegotiating with landlords to let themstay in their accommodation. We contactCommunity Welfare Officers wherearrears are caused by delays in welfarepayments. If they cannot afford theircurrent accommodation, we help themfind somewhere cheaper to live.Many people come to us to know abouttheir entitlement to rent supplement.Threshold Annual Report 2008 27


Unlike bigger cities, where rules mayvary from area to area, eligibility rules forrent supplement in Galway are clear anduniformly applied. This means that wecan confidently tell people whether theywill qualify or not. We can also apply themeans test rules to accurately determinehow much money they will receive.In September 2008, we commenceda Tenancy Sustainment Project inpartnership with the Galway CityCouncil and we are now providingTenancy Sustainment to 25 families andindividuals who had been experiencinghousing difficulties. This is a time limitedsupport providing practical assistance inprotecting the tenancies.We played an active role in policyformulation through the Galway CityCommunity Forum and the Galway CityHomeless Forum.We provided training to CitizenInformation Centres in the regionincluding Galway and Roscommon andprovided training to voluntary housingproviders. We also continued our goodrelationship with accommodationoffices in third level colleges andprovided them with training on a rangeof housing issues.28 Threshold Annual Report 2008


LimerickIn late 2008, we were unfortunatelyforced to close our Limerick advicecentre due to a lack of funding. In its twoyears of operation, Threshold was able tomake an important contribution to peoplewith housing difficulties and queries inLimerick. From our office in CatherineStreet, we helped one in every seventenants in the city and county.Limerick has particular housing issues.It has a considerable amount of bedsitaccommodation in the city centre andwe have encountered unlicensed lettingagents who routinely retain the depositsof tenants. They are predominantlyrecipients of rent supplement or on lowincomes.Threshold hopes to secure fundingto allow us re-establish a presence inLimerick. Until that time, we will continueto provide support to Limerick peoplethrough our other advice centresThreshold Annual Report 2008 29


Access Housing UnitThreshold’s Access Housing Unit (AHU),funded by the Homeless Agency,helps people who are homeless andat risk of homelessness to find longerterm accommodation in the privaterented sector in the Dublin city andcounty area. We do not have a stockof accommodation available and sourceproperty on an as-needed basis throughprivate landlords and accommodationproviders.Since its beginnings in 2003 our servicehas adapted to respond the changingneeds of our clients. Previouslypeople could only access our servicesby being referred from emergencyaccommodation. In 2008, we feltstrongly that we needed to respond topeople who were newly homeless and atrisk of homelessness by allowing themto come to us directly. This new serviceenables us to reduce and even eliminatethe need for people to go emergencyhomeless accommodation.How the AccessHousing Unit WorksThe service works in two ways. Peoplewho are homeless and at risk ofhomelessness can be referred by anotherorganization who is working with themor they can approach us directly. TheAHU project team assess the person’sability to live independently and copewith a tenancy in the community. TheAHU then finds a private landlord withsuitable accommodation, accompaniesthe person to a viewing, assists them inapplying for rent supplement and informsthem of their rights and responsibilitiesas a tenant. The AHU assists the tenant insetting up their new home and linking inwith community based services throughthe provision of ‘tenancy sustainment’.Role of Housing AdviceAll Access Housing Unit staff are fullytrained in the provision of housingadvice and work in close co-operationwith our housing advice services. Weprovide advice on housing options,rights and responsibilities for peoplewho are homeless to ensure that theymake informed decisions and sustainablechoices in moving out of homelessness.Pre-tenancy training and tenancysustainment are important in preventingpoor decision making in relation tohousing which may eventually lead to itsloss.We also help to prevent homelessness.Vulnerable people with little knowledgeof their housing options or their rights,entitlements and responsibilities or whoare in desperate need may get involvedin housing situations which are notsustainable. Our housing advice helpsprevent such situations occurring byensuring that individuals are aware ofthe range of housing options which areavailable to them and by exploring thepros and cons of each one.Tenancies CreatedDuring 2008 the Access Housing Unitcreated 50 tenancies, for 29 single men,5 single women, 1 couple and 1 pair ofsiblings. 23 children were housed inthese tenancies. Since 2003, we havecreated tenancies for a total of 447households. Given that a total of 2,144households were homeless in Dublin in2008, the AHU is playing a significantrole in helping to end the problem ofhomelessness.30 Threshold Annual Report 2008


Tenancies CreatedSingle Male 58Lone Parent 19Single Female 11Couple 5Family 5Father with part time access 2Referrals to the AccessHousing UnitWe welcome referrals from otheragencies who feel that private rentedaccommodation is the most appropriatehousing option for their client. Wearrange for an interview and assessmentto progress the referral.If a person is at risk or newly homelessand they are not currently linked witha service, they can refer themselves tous directly. We assess their needs andif we are confident that private rentedaccommodation is the best housingoption, we find them accommodation andwe provide them with ongoing support.Tenancy SustainmentServiceWe provide a Tenancy SustainmentService to help people make an effectivetransition to their new home and maintainthe tenancy independently in the longterm. We provide a range of practicalassistance, around issues such as rentand bill payments, housekeeping, lifeskills and linking in with local communityservices. Approximately half (46%) of thepeople we placed in accommodation in2008 needed ongoing support from us.Rental AccommodationScheme (RAS)The Rental Accommodation Scheme(RAS) is an initiative introduced to caterfor the accommodation needs of personswho are in receipt of rent supplement,normally for more than 18 months. Thescheme is being administered by localauthorities and is intended to provide anadditional source of good quality rentedaccommodation for people in long termhousing need. Local authorities enterinto contractual arrangements withprivate landlords to secure the mediumto long-term availability of private rentedaccommodation for the RAS.The Access Housing Unit in partnershipwith Dublin City Council and aprivate landlord operate 23 unitsof accommodation in Dublin cityfor homeless or formerly homelesspeople. The AHU provide a propertymanagement function and tenancysustainment service for the 23 units.The tenant is provided with pre-tenancytraining and induction prior to move in,assistance with move in and tenancysustainment support for as long asThreshold Annual Report 2008 31


equired. The aim of the project is tohave all tenants living independently ingood quality, affordable accommodation.The properties are built to an excellentstandard and rents are at an affordabledifferential rents rate through Dublin CityCouncil.Dublin Lions Club‘Flat Out Kits’Dublin Lions have generously sponsoredthe provision of ‘flat-out’ kits for tenantshoused by the Access Housing Unit.The kit is available to clients movinginto private rented accommodation. Itconsists of essential household groceriesas well as towels and toiletries and one ortwo basic electrical items. Threshold staffworks with the client to create a kit thatbest suits their needs. While no moneyis given, the client is saved the cost ofpurchasing these essential items in theearly and critical stages of their tenancy.Stepping StoneStepping Stone is a housing charity thatworks in partnership with governmentdepartments, housing agencies andother charities to provide safe andsecure accommodation to individualsand families in the Dublin area who arecurrently homeless. Stepping Stone hasprovided the Access Housing Unit withaccommodation which we have matchedwith suitable people for whom weprovide a tenancy sustainment service.This is a most welcome partnership andone from which we hope to build.32 Threshold Annual Report 2008


Promoting housing reform throughresearch and campaigningHousing problems involve complexsocial issues. This complexity has beenadded to by the negative economicchanges which occurred in 2008.Threshold has a track record of carryingout quality evidence-based researchas a way to campaign for social change.We proposed a number of initiativesto Government in 2008 as practicalsolutions to the issues faced by people invulnerable housing situations in Ireland:Impact of Housing Adviceon the Prevention ofHomelessnessThreshold commissioned agroundbreaking independent study thatwill measure the impact of our advicework on the prevention of homelessness.The wider benefits of housing advicein resolving housing problems willalso be assessed. The study involves atelephone survey of over 400 formerThreshold clients to find out whetherour intervention helped to solve theirhousing problem and to determinewhether we assisted clients who werethreatened with homelessness to avoidbecoming homeless. The study will alsoassess the value for money of Threshold’swork in the prevention of homelessness.The report will be published in late 2009.Supply of Single PersonAccommodationWe completed a research study analysingthe supply of suitable accommodationthat may be accessed by single personhouseholds on low incomes in Dublin,Cork, Galway and Limerick, as part of aresearch study funded by the CombatPoverty Agency. A national survey ofadvertised bedsit/one-person lettingswas conducted. We also consulted localauthorities and voluntary housing bodies.The report highlighted the difficultiesfaced by single people in accessingquality affordable accommodation,specifically people in receipt of rentsupplement and people in low paidfull-time employment (the ‘workingpoor’).Migrants and Poverty inthe Private Rented Sectorin DublinThreshold commenced a researchstudy that examines the experiencesof migrants living in the private rentedsector in Dublin. A number of areasare examined including awareness oflegal rights, access to accommodation,quality of accommodation, welfareentitlements, relationship with landlordsand with other tenants, and problemsarising in tenancies. The methodologyincludes an analysis of data gatheredfrom Threshold’s national client databaserelating to every client of non-Irish/UKorigin in the previous year; a telephonesurvey of up to 100 migrants that haveaccessed Threshold’s services; andin-depth interviews with migrantsliving at the lower end of the privaterented market. The report is fundedby the Combat Poverty Agency (nowDepartment of Social and Family Affairs)and will be published in 2009.Threshold PolicySubmissionsThreshold made the followingsubmissions to GovernmentDepartments, state agencies and otherbodies in 2008:- Submission to the Department ofEnvironment, Heritage and LocalGovernment in relation to the Housing(Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 2008;- Submissions to the Department ofEnvironment, Heritage and LocalGovernment in relation to the newThreshold Annual Report 2008 33


minimum standards;- Pre-budget submissions to theDepartment of Social and Family Affairson rent supplement limits and reform ofthe rent supplement scheme;- Submissions to the Private ResidentialTenancies Board on a Deposit ProtectionScheme; on its fee and funding structureand on the use of video-link evidence;- Submission to the Department ofFinance and the Revenue Commissionerson tenants liability for tax owed by theiroverseas landlord;- Submission to the Garda Commissioneron the role of Gardaí in the private rentedsector;- Submission to the Homeless Agencyon the role of housing advice in theprevention of homelessness.European Network forHousing ResearchThreshold believes in adoptinginternational best practice to housing inIreland. Threshold’s Chairperson andDirector chair the Private Rented MarketsWorking Group of the European Networkfor Housing Research (ENHR), whichis comprised of leading internationalhousing academics and housing experts.The ENHR international conference tookplace in Dublin in 2008.Threshold jointly organised with theUniversity of York an internationalseminar on the regulation and role ofprivate rented markets to take placein 2009. We are organising a furtherseminar to compare private rentedsectors in different countries whichwill take place in Germany in 2010.Papers presented at this seminar willbe published in a special edition of aninternational housing journal.34 Threshold Annual Report 2008


Sources of fundingFunding is vital to provide our one-to-onesupport services and in our ability tomeet service demand. In 2008, wegenerated a third (32%) of our incomeby fundraising. 90 cent of every €1 wentdirectly to solving housing problems andpreventing homelessness. Our charityshops and community fundraising helpto keep us at the heart of communitieswe serve.Each housing problem is unique andrequires a bespoke solution. Our staffprovide a listening ear, a source ofconfidential support and solid advicethat comes from ongoing training andexperience. Our people make thebiggest difference to our clients - nomatter what the housing problem, theyare here to help.For every €22 donation we receive, itcan fund up to one hour of specialisttelephone or face to face housing advice.Within one hour an advice worker couldhelp between three and six people tofind a solution to their housing problem.It’s a tangible and small cost to preventsomeone from becoming homeless.Despite the economic downturn, weare thankful to donors who continueto respond generously to our appeals.Regular monthly donations help us toplan for the future. A monthly gift of €21could be worth €35 to Threshold throughtax efficient giving, helping us to reacheven more people. We aspire that no callgoes unanswered.We would like to thank theDepartment of the Environment,Heritage and Local Governmentwho are our principal funders fortheir continued generous support.We would also like to thankthe following:FÁSHomeless AgencyDublin City CouncilDun Laoghaire Rathdown CountyCouncilFingal County CouncilSouth Dublin County CouncilGalway City CouncilGalway County CouncilCork City CouncilCork County CouncilSouthern HSEWestern HSEDormant Accounts FundCombat Poverty AgencyBank of Scotland IrelandBank of IrelandNational Irish BankUnileverMcCann FitzgeraldHibernianCRHElectric AidBovale DevelopmentsJohn Sisk & SonsSceptre FoundationDublin LionsThreshold Annual Report 2008 35


Sources of fundingThreshold would like to thank everyonewho supported Threshold at events weorganised in 2008. Your support allowsThreshold deliver frontline services topeople who are homeless and need ourhelp.Trusts and LegaciesWith support from the Iris O’BrienFoundation we were able to developa promotional DVD. ESB Electric aidscontinued support enabled us upupgrade our training facilities.Hopestar AppealOur annual Hopestar Christmas appealcontinued to be successful. Forty fourcompanies generously supported thecampaign. The appeal raise €34,032Donors generosity was acknowledged ina full page advert in the Sunday BusinessPost newspaper.Direct MailWe undertook three direct mail appealsin 2008. Direct mail continues to be aninvaluable way of connecting with newsupporters of Threshold. It provides avital source of income while enabling usto develop a relationship with our donors.Midsummer ConcertGalwayOur annual Midsummer concert tookplace in NUI Galway on 26th June. TheKane Sisters performed, renownedtraditional musicians. In addition, DavidGrealy, The Baytones, The CarouselQuartet and the Galway boy singersalso performed. The musicians andour Galway fundraising committeegenerously donate their time year afteryear and work tirelessly to make thisevent a success raising much neededfunds for our Galway office.Threshold Circle of FriendsThresholds circle of friends are donorswho give monthly to support our workeither by direct debit or standing order.These donors make it possible for us tosustain, to plan and develop our services.A gift of €22 provides a trained andexperienced telephone advice worker foran hour.Tax RefundsThreshold can reclaim tax on donationsmade by P.A.Y.E. workers to Thresholdover €250 in one tax year. Donors whoresponded by completing and returningtheir applications forms, provided anadditional source of funding worth€7,713 in 2008.Easter Egg AppealWe raffled in excess of one hundredEaster Eggs. Local businesses facilitatethe raffles on our behalf.30th Anniversary BallWe celebrated thirty years of servicedelivery and expansion by hosting ourfirst charity ball in the Westin HotelDublin. The event was hosted by SiobhanO’Connor of the 98FM morning crew.Many luxurious prizes were sponsored.The ball was well attended by corporatedonors and longstanding supporters ofThreshold.CorporateCorporate supporters were too numerousto mention all individually. One exampleof support that has made a lastingdifference was by Bank of Scotlandby sponsoring a new lo call telephone36 Threshold Annual Report 2008


number for the Waterford area. Manymore people in need of housing advice inthe south east are being reached.Community FundraisingCommunity fundraising helps us tospread the word and inform potentialsupporters and service users aboutour work, while also gaining feedbackfrom the public. Businesses continue tosupport us by placing our coin boxes inon their countertops. Church gate andstreet collections provide essential funds.Other community fundraising highlightsare 2008 were:Women’s mini marathon: Femalesupporters took to the streetswalking and jogging for Thresholdon 2nd June.Parachute jumps: several donorsliterally took flight for Thresholdand took a parachute jump. It wasan experience of a lifetime for theparticipants made all the morespecial by knowing that fundsraised made such a difference toThreshold.Comedy night: We held a comedynight on 3rd July in the LaughterLounge in DublinCinema night: The LighthouseCinema opened in SmithfieldDublin in May and screened “TheWaiting Room” on our behalf.We had a packed venue with twohundred and seventy supportersattending.Volunteers are vital to help Thresholdreach out in the community for support.If you can provide some time on a onceoff or committed basis please log ontowww.threshold.ie to download anapplication form.Charity ShopsOne mans junk is another man’s treasure!This has proven to be true in BallincolligCork and Castleisland Tralee wherecustomers visit our charity shopsweekly, recycling their unwanted itemsand finding a hidden treasure on eachvisit. Proceeds support our local advicecentres.Threshold in the MarketCork Threshold’s Annual ‘Thresholdin the Market’ fundraising dinner tookplace on Friday 28th November 2008.The event was a resounding successwith over €8,500 raised for Threshold’sservices in Cork.Delicious food and fine wine wasprovided by Kay Harte and her staff ofthe Farmgate Restaurant. Guests weregreeted on arrival by music from Profidia,followed by a selection of singing by theChorus of Opera 2005. The well knownsoprano Majella Cullagh took to the stagelater in the evening and gave a wonderfulsolo performance to the delight of allthose present accompanied by RhodaDullea.We would like to take this opportunityto sincerely thank our fundraisingcommittee for their tremendous workin organising this event. We also like toexpress our gratitude to the many localbusinesses that support Threshold. Weespecially wish to thank Kay Harte,proprietor of the Farmgate restaurant,and her staff for supporting Thresholdover many years.Threshold Annual Report 2008 37


Financial Report 2008Income 2008Total € 2,022,565Donations and Fundraising € 587,439Grants € 1,063,677Grants FÁS Community Employment Scheme € 223,779Charity Shops € 58,681Rental and Deposit Income € 58,418Miscellaneous € 30,571Expenditure 2008Total € 2,127,835Direct Charitable Expenditure € 1,285,880FÁS Community Employment Scheme € 223,779Fundraising and Publicity € 387,978Managing and Administering the Charity € 230,198Sources of fundingGrants 53Donations and Fundraising 29Grants FS CommunityEmployment Scheme 11Charity Shops 3Rental and Deposit Income 3Miscellaneous 138 Threshold Annual Report 2008


Contact details and staff membersHead Office21 Stoneybatter, Dublin 7Tel: (01) 678 6310Director: Bob JordanHead Office Administrator: Emma FarrellAccountant: Edward KiernanRAS Development Manager:Russell ChapmanLegal Officer: Kevin BanehamFundraising21 Stoneybatter, Dublin 7Tel: (01) 635 3618Development & Marketing Manager:Mark RobinsonFundraising Executive: Zadrhiena NooneCommunity Fundraiser: Monica CaffreyFundraising Assistant: Gillian MurphyDublin and EasternAdvice Centre21 Stoneybatter, Dublin 7Tel: (01) 635 3651Services Coordinator: Stephen LargeFÁS Community Employment Superviser:Carol FitzmauriceAdvice workers: Sharon Clinton, SheilaDunne, Claire Lane, Patricia Martin andTeresa SnowAdvice workers (FÁS CE): Miriam Tyrrell,Angelo Incrocci, Jennifer Dowling,Uzoamaka Ndu Nwogu, Phyllis Grant,Emmanuel Might and Pamela ButlerReception (FÁS CE): Linda Flanagan andLouise CormackVolunteer: Miryam KennedyGibney and Sean McHughAdvice Workers (FÁS CE): Mary Cremin,Eileen Lynch, Jo Anglin, John Thornton,David Walsh, Linda Fennelly andJoanne ShineVolunteers: Peggy Manning and MaryPat MurphyGalway and WesternAdvice Centre3, Victoria Place, Merchant’sRoad, GalwayTel: (091) 563 080Services Coordinator: Deirdre MurphyAdvice Workers: Karina Timothy, SineadRoche and Nicholas DowlingAdvice Worker (FÁS JI): Ann FahertyReceptionist (FÁS JI): Martina KellyTenancy Sustainment Worker:Gina GilleranLimerick Advice Centre(Office closed in 2008)Services Coordinator: Iris DenieffeAdvice worker: Mary HynesAdministrator: Mary HarveyAccess Housing Unit21 Stoneybatter, Dublin 7Tel: (01) 678 6094Project Coordinator: Louisa SantoroProject Workers: Bernadette Boylan,Thomas Hanlon and Irene DunneProject Support Worker: Gary ByrneCork and SouthernAdvice Centre22 South Mall, CorkTel: (021) 427 88 48Services Coordinator: Margaret O’NeillSenior Advice Worker: Catherine O’SheaAdvice Workers: Joanne Kiely, EvelynThreshold Annual Report 2008 39


Charity shopsBallincollig Charity ShopUnit 5, Ballincollig Shopping Centre,Ballincollig, CorkTel: (021) 487 7251Manager: Geraldine McLoughlinShop staff (FÁS CE): Eileen Barry,Tara Keaveney, Sheila Noonan, DeniseMohally and Angela MaherVolunteers: May Howe, Sheila Kelleher,Jean Hartnett, Amme O’Regan, MaryHogan, Carol Nagel, Anna O’Donoghue,Betty Penney, Aoife McLoughlin, BrianDilworth and Matt McGrathTralee Charity ShopMilkmarket Lane,Tralee, Co. KerryTel: (066) 710 2685Manager: Celine DalyShop staff (FÁS CE): Jackie Quirke,Risikat Karwem and Barbara BrownieVolunteers: Bridget Sutton, EileenSweeney, Joan Shine, Muiriosa Murphy,Sinead Boyle, Helena Molyneaux andOluwakemi OnisapothCastleisland Charity Shop41 Main Street,Castleisland, Co. KerryTel: (066) 716 3742Manager: Suzanne ScanlonShop staff (FÁS CE): Frances Kennellyand Mary KennedyVolunteers: Séan Ward, Ginny O’Sullivan,Peter Murphy and Bernie Hogan40 Threshold Annual Report 2008


Board Of DirectorsBoard Of Directors 2008Aideen Hayden - ChairpersonLance O’Brien - SecretaryBrian Murphy - TreasurerDes ByrneThora MackeyTed CrosbieMargaret O’NeillMalachy WalshTrócaire JoyeMartini MolloyPaddy GrayThreshold Annual Report 2008 41


Threshold Ltd., a company limited by guarantee and not having a share capital.Registered in Ireland. Registered office: 21 Stoneybatter, Dublin 7.Company number: 70660 Registered charity number: CHY 6279www.threshold.ie42 Threshold Annual Report 2008Creative production:interact@fountainhead.ie

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