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Minister Coveney outlines Homelessness Response

Published on Friday, 23 Dec 2016
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The Minister for Housing, Planning, Community & Local Government Mr. Simon Coveney,T.D., said today (23 December, 2016)  “There is understandably a lot of concern around homelessness particularly at this time and year and I want to reassure people and update them as to what work is being undertaken.”

Provisional figures for this year indicate that in excess of 18,000 households/individuals have had their social  housing needs met under a range of  housing schemes. We have built, purchased or refurbished some 5,300 homes, 12,000 HAP tenancies have been created and 1,100 families have been accommodated under RAS.

“Under Rebuilding Ireland we are committed to increasing the supply of both social and private housing and this in turn will help the homeless situation. We have published a new rental strategy which  provides further protections for those in the private rented sector and ensures that their tenancies are safeguarded. The President has signed the legislation underpinning the strategy so the  Rent Pressure Zones (RPZs) will  come into effect from  midnight tonight. This ensures certainty for those in the private rented sector in Dublin and Cork City, ” added Minister Coveney

Increased Beds for Rough Sleepers

Three new facilities at a cost of €5.4m are up running and available. Last night some 54 beds were not used across the entire system.

  • 210 new additional emergency beds are being provided in Dublin city centre.
  • Two of three new facilities opened their doors on 9th December 2016 Ellis Quay and Little Britain Street.
  • The beds at Carman's Hall, Francis Street are now coming on stream.
  • 20 additional beds are also available during extreme cold weather spells throughout the winter to ensure that everyone who needs a bed can get one.
  • This additional provision brings the overall total of emergency beds available in Dublin to 1,800.
  • The number of rough sleepers counted during the official count of 22nd November 2016 was 142 individuals. The additional beds are being provided to ensure there is sufficient beds for those currently sleeping rough or others who need a bed.

Homelessness Budget

  • A 40% increase in homeless funding from €70m in 2016 to €98m in 2017 will ensure that the increased demand for emergency homeless services is effectively addressed and will assist in supporting homeless households with long term housing solutions.
  • In 2017, we will provide funding to ensure that 3,000 individuals and families will move out of emergency accommodation into longer-term housing. This year, approximately 2,700 families and individuals will exit homelessness, higher than any previous year.
  • In terms of rough sleepers, we have made special provision for housing with intensive wraparound supports to be provided through a ‘Housing First’ programme for 300 of the most vulnerable individuals with complex needs in Dublin.
  • In order to ensure the success of these measures, the Housing First programme will be supported by significantly increased funding in the areas of mental health and addiction from the Department of Health /HSE.

Exits from Homelessness

  • People who are living in emergency hostels and shelters are supported to move on to a range of longer-term housing options, including local authority housing, housing provided by voluntary bodies, and accommodation provided under the Housing Assistance Scheme whereby local authorities pay private landlords to provide quality rented accommodation.
  • A Homeless Pilot of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is operational in the Dublin Region and is being implemented through the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE). The pilot is designed to transfer homeless individuals and families from emergency accommodation into private rented tenancies. To date in 2016, 800 HAP tenancies have been created for homeless households in the Dublin Region, which is well in excess of the Government’s original target for 2016 of 550 tenancies.
  • Through housing-led initiatives permanent, stable and supported housing will be provided to long-term homeless individuals, thus reducing the reliance on emergency accommodation over time.  The target for secure tenancies to be delivered under the Dublin Region ‘housing-first’ initiative has been tripled under the Action Plan from 100 to 300.   A Focus Ireland – Peter McVerry Trust consortium is tasked with delivering this programme.
  • A range of schemes and social housing programmes have been developed and continue to be rolled out to support homeless individuals and homeless families. This includes a range of build, acquisition and leasing schemes, including rapid delivery programmes and schemes which will bring properties which are currently vacant or derelict back into use.

“The problem of homelessness continues to be very challenging and I and my colleagues in Government  will  continue to do  everything we can to reduce  the number of families and individuals in emergency accommodation. We continue to work closely with the NGOs, Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies to deal with this problem,”  ended Minister Coveney.