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Joint Statement from Minister O’Brien, Minister Donnelly & Minister Feighan

Published on Wednesday, 29 Jul 2020
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Supporting individuals and families facing homelessness is a priority for this Government. The Programme for Government commits to reducing and preventing homelessness and provides detail on how the Government will approach this challenge.

One key commitment is that the Department of Health and the HSE will work with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to assess how dedicated funding and resources can be provided to deliver the necessary health and mental health supports required to assist homeless people with complex needs.

A bi-lateral meeting between the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien, the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and Minister of State with responsibility for Public Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy Frank Feighan was held today.

Commenting following the meeting Minister O’Brien said: ‘The Programme for Government recognises that many households experiencing homelessness have additional and oftentimes complex health needs.

‘Immediately after my appointment I established a High Level Homelessness Taskforce to provide a forum for engagement with key organisations working to address homelessness. The Taskforce has been examining measures that are needed to support exits from homelessness, which will require a collaborative approach between our two Departments.

‘I understand Minister Donnelly is strongly committed to addressing these challenges and we will continue to meet regularly and work together to help homeless people with complex health and mental health needs,” he concluded.

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, said: ‘Covid-19 has highlighted the links between health and homelessness. The Programme for Government commits to developing health and social interventions, based on an inclusion health approach, to target people who are homeless and in addiction. Addressing the health needs of homeless persons and improving their access to healthcare is a key priority for the HSE. Securing additional resources for meeting the health needs of homeless persons will be a priority in Budget 2021.

Minister Donnelly continued: ‘I look forward to working with Minister O’Brien and maintaining the link between our two Departments into the future on the issue of homelessness. I also want to strengthen cooperation between voluntary housing organisations, the Dublin Regional Homelessness Executive and local authorities on one hand, and the Health Service Executive and drug and alcohol services on the other.

Minister Feighan said: ‘There are many positive lessons from the joined up approach to meeting the health and social needs of people who are homeless during Covid-19. Rapid access to opioid substitution treatment has seen over 70 new service users among people who are homeless. In addition, additional accommodation was provided to enable homeless people with underlying health issues to self-isolate. As a result of these efforts, the number of outbreaks of Covid-19 in homeless services has been minimised, with only 15 cases associated with 4 clusters. We need to maintain these supports for homeless people, as Covid-19 remains a threat to public health,” he concluded.