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Government Approves Plan to Tackle Homelessness

Statement by Minister Jan O’Sullivan, TD Minister for Housing and Plannin

miércoles 22 de octubre de 2014, 11:21h

At its meeting today the Government approved the Implementation Plan on the State's Response to Homelessness.  Minister O’Sullivan said, "Implementing this plan requires a whole-of-Government approach to addressing homelessness and to deal with the pressures that are now presenting.  I was very pleased that there was full support among Cabinet colleagues for the Implementation Plan.  There has been considerable pressure on homelessness services in recent months and it is vital that we bring a focused housing-led approach to addressing homelessness and rough sleeping."

The Plan implements the recommendations of the Homelessness Oversight Group that were contained in its First Report. 

The plan covers the period to end 2016 and sets out a range of short and medium term approaches which will secure an appropriate supply of accommodation for homeless households.  "This plan will deliver 2,700 units specifically for homeless people by the end of 2016.  In the short term I expect significant supply from vacant units, with construction, acquisition and NAMA units also coming on stream and providing homes for people who are currently homeless.”

The plan contains 80 actions that are direct, immediate and solutions based and which contribute to the delivery of this ring-fenced supply of accommodation between 2014 and the end of 2016.  Responsibility for implementation of the various actions are assigned to the relevant stakeholders

A number of priority areas have been identified in the plan including the accommodation of rough sleepers, the management and use of vacant properties, the practical application of local authority housing allocations; and the timely and appropriate utilisation of NAMA units.

"The Government is committed to addressing the homelessness problem and to realising the goal set out in the Homelessness Policy Statement of ending involuntary long-term homelessness by the end of 2016.  The actions in this plan will transform the lives of those citizens affected by homelessness."

 “There is significant pressure on housing services at present.  However, I am convinced that with a co-ordinated approach we can make real progress both in the short and long-term.  Recent figures show that there are 127 sleeping rough in Dublin and 142 families in hotel accommodation (as at 14 May 2014).  With additional supply becoming available the priority will be to address both these categories of people, while also working to ensure that in the medium term no one is spending extended periods of time in temporary accommodation.  €35m in funding is available to bring long-term vacant units back into beneficial use.  I expect this investment will produce some 1750 over the coming months.    My Department is currently working with Dublin City Council to ring-fence specific units for individuals and couples who are homeless and in terms of general allocation of vacant units a priority will be given to homeless families and individuals both in the Dublin region and across the country.”

Dublin City Council is currently preparing a targeted programme of actions to support the Implementation Plan with a particular focus on managing and addressing homelessness in the Dublin region.  This plan will be published by the end of June 2014.  The Minister acknowledged the challenges facing the City Council and the other 3 Dublin local authorities in dealing with the homelessness crisis and commented that "the forthcoming Dublin Action Plan needs to be ambitious and far-reaching, it needs to provide significant numbers of properties in accordance with the options outlined in the Implementation Plan, and it needs to ensure that homeless households and other vulnerable groups are afforded the appropriate priority in the allocation of all housing across the Dublin region.  Difficult decisions are ahead but every avenue needs to be exhausted."

The Minister also said that capital funding to support the plan is being provided.  “In the coming days I will announce details of €25m in funding for capital projects specifically for people who are homeless.  This funding will comprise a combination of construction and acquisition projects that will provide appropriate units quickly. 

 “This is an ambitious but a realistic implementation plan.  It will be closely monitored and any obstacles to progress will be identified and addressed as a priority.  We can end long-term homelessness and I will be working closely with all partners over the coming months to ensure that we achieve this goal by the end of 2016.”

Ends.

 Homelessness Implementation Plan:

 Implementation plan follows on the independent Oversight Group Report on Homelessness which the Minister received in December.

 The Oversight Group consisted of Mark Kennedy (partner, Mazars), Tony Fahey (UCD), Sylda Langford (retired Civil Servant).

 The Implementation Plan identifies 80 actions to be taken by a range of stakeholders.

 The Implementation Plan envisages the delivery of some 2700 between now and the end of 2016.

 Main methods of delivery are:

Bring vacant properties back into use. 

Ensuring that local authority allocation schemes give priority to vulnerable groups such as homeless families and individuals.

Working with NAMA and the voluntary sector to ensure that units are prioritised for homeless households.

Establishing a social housing rental service in Dublin.

Ensuring that leasing arrangements facilitate the use and accessibility of these properties by homeless households.

The Department of Environment is also engaging with other Departments and agencies to identify potential emergency accommodation solutions.

 Implementation Plan Team will meet monthly to review progress and report quarterly to the Cabinet Sub Committee on Social Policy.

Figures on Homelessness:

April rough sleeper count in Dublin was 127, a decrease of approximately 9% on the figure in November but an increase from April 2013.

Figures from mid-May indicate that there are 142 families in the Dublin region accommodated in hotels.

It is estimated that overall there are at least 2,660 homeless persons in Ireland, the vast majority of whom are in some form of temporary accommodation.

Housing Initiatives 2014:

€35m will be invested to bring back into beneficial use some 1750 boarded up houses across the country.

€45m will be invested in increasing the supply of homes for people who are elderly, have a disability or are homeless.  Details will be announced in the coming day, with approximately €25m invested into projects for people who are homeless.

The Government announced the restart of local authority housing building in March with an investment of €68m.  Last week an additional €20m was added to that sum through stimulus measures announced by Minister Brendan Howlin.

 

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