Statement by Minister Eoghan Murphy on Homelessness

Published on Friday, 11 Aug 2017
Minister Eoghan Murphy TD

We are currently dealing with unprecedented levels of homelessness.

The idea that the Government might try to hide this from the general public, seek to down-play the scale or turn away from it, does not take account of the huge amount of time and resources already being dedicated to this crisis.

That is why a number of weeks ago I announced a further investment of €10m (on top of €100m for 2017) for more family facilities/hubs which will be able to accommodate an additional 200 families.

The Dublin Region Homeless Executive is currently working on several different projects, in both new and existing facilities, that will deliver over 150 additional emergency spaces shortly.  These are just some measures currently underway.

Since I became Minister in June I have been working with our local authorities to find new emergency solutions that will work, and work quickly, to help people in this very difficult situation. I have held detailed one-on-one discussions with each of the four Dublin Local Authority Chief Executives, in addition to our regular group meetings on homeless families, specifically to discuss possible new short-term measures until longer-term  measures can kick in, like the strategy on Vacant Homes which is currently being developed. These will be announced in the coming weeks but work is already well underway.

Many individuals and families cannot meet one of their most basic needs through traditional avenues or supports, and so emergency measures are being taken while longer term solutions are found.

Last year in excess of 3,000 households left homelessness into sustainable tenancies.  And in the first quarter of this year more than 900 families were accommodated.  I want to once again thank all the people who are so dedicated in their efforts to help us help these families and individuals.

An unprecedented €5.3 billion euro  has been ring-fenced for our housing and homelessness plans out to 2021.  Those plans are currently being reviewed in light of the experiences of the past year and more details of this will be announced shortly for debate and agreement in the Oireachtas.

Homelessness is something which must concern us all as we chart a path for the future of our country.  But the financial crisis of 2008-2010 cast a long shadow on our society.  That shadow is with us still and it is darkest where we see young families and young men and women without proper homes, despite all the evidence of prosperity elsewhere.  People know this and they demand that we do more.  We demand that of ourselves as a government.  This is very much the intention of the Taoiseach when he speaks of securing opportunities for everyone in this new Republic.

ENDS

Note to editors;

  • In 2016 we provided social housing solutions for 19,000 households – this included 5,000 homes under the build, acquisitions and vacant homes programmes. The expenditure was €935m.
  • This year we hope to achieve 21,000 housing solutions and the spend is €1.35billion.
  • We currently have a social housing pipeline of  607 developments, which will deliver in excess of 10,000 homes. Of this figure there are 63 developments on site which are delivering 2,400 social homes.
  • Increasing housing supply and dealing with the homeless problem is a priority for this Government and substantial funding has been provided. This year we will spend €1.3billion on Social Housing.  Rebuilding Ireland provides for expenditure of €5.3billion on 47,000 additional social homes out to 2021.
  • Minister Murphy has been tasked to review the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan over the coming months with a view to identifying what new and additional actions can be taken to improve the supply of housing across all tenures, with a particular emphasis on social and affordable housing.
  • The public consultation phase was launched on Friday 21st July and will run to today (Friday 11th August).
  • As part of this review process, which the Minister intends to conclude by September, he has asked his Department to focus in particular on the broad issue of housing affordability and how we can facilitate more households to access affordable housing, that ideally doesn’t cost them much more than a third of their income.
  • Unlocking supply is the key to overcoming many of the housing challenges we face.  The Government is firmly focussed on this and we are advancing a wide range of initiatives and schemes across all tenures – social, rental and purchase – to ramp up activity to the levels needed to meet current and future housing demand (In 2014 ESRI estimated this to be 25,000 homes per year, although more recent research by the Institute suggests that “long-run housing demand in the Irish economy was now in the region of 30,000 to 35,000 per annum”).
  • Through the various actions under Rebuilding Ireland, the Government’s multi-stranded Action Plan for Housing & Homelessness, we are creating the right conditions and environment to increase housing supply, particularly in our cities and large towns, and to encourage competition among developers.
  • New housing supply at scale is now crucial. Rebuilding Ireland is just one year old and during these last 12 months, a range of actions have been taken which will have a real and significant impact on housing supply.
  • However, the nature of the housing market is such that it will take some time for its impact to be fully felt in terms of a substantial supply of homes built and available to buy and rent.
  • In addition to the unprecedented, ring-fenced housing budget of €5.3billion out to 2021 to deliver 47,000 additional social houses, we are also advancing a range of key actions to stimulate and drive supply: Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund, which is providing €226m in critical enabling infrastructure works to facilitate the delivery of 23,000 new homes by 2021, across 34 major sites in 15 LAs.
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