Dáil debates

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions

Homeless Accommodation

11:50 am

Photo of Eoin Ó BroinEoin Ó Broin (Dublin Mid West, Sinn Fein)
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17. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government his views on the recent increase in homeless presentations and the numbers in emergency accommodation. [47284/22]

Photo of Eoin Ó BroinEoin Ó Broin (Dublin Mid West, Sinn Fein)
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The latest homelessness figures for the Department show the highest-ever levels of adults, children and pensioners in Department of Housing-funded emergency accommodation. That is only a portion of the total number of people who are in State- or non-State-funded emergency accommodation. All of the homeless service providers in local authorities and in the voluntary sector that the Minister and I talk to are telling us that those numbers are set to increase. Does the Minister have any plans to put in place any new or innovative measures to try and stop the rise and also to reduce the length of time those adults, children and pensioners are spending in emergency accommodation?

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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The continuing increase in the numbers accessing emergency accommodation is a serious concern for both me and the Government. We are doing everything in our power to tackle this problem, both by increasing housing supply, which will increase substantially this year, and investing in homelessness prevention. Yesterday, we allocated €215 million which is a substantial increase on the previous year in supports for those who are homeless.

I have introduced further measures to increase supply, including the new voids programme - some 2,450 voids will be brought back into use this year, with an emphasis on quick turnaround and reletting - the pilot expansion of the repair and leasing scheme and the reinstatement of the delegated sanction to local authorities for social housing acquisitions. Every local authority is being given the delegated power to purchase homes that come on the market with tenants in situwho are HAP or RAS tenants. I want to be clear that they do not need to come back to me for approval and they need to purchase them. That is a very proactive measure that is there to assist people who have been issued with notices to quit and who are on our housing transfer waiting list. I am encouraging this and have directed local authorities to do that. I will further reinforce that measure on 13 October when I have the housing summit with the chief executives and the directors of services of all local authorities in the country. Since I introduced that measure, we have seen over 300 new homes come in that we have purchased or we have entered into contracts with or are entering into contracts to purchase homes with tenants in situ. We are bringing in that measure while we are increasing the social housing supply. As stated earlier, we will deliver more new build social homes this year than in any other year in the history of the State. The activation and the prevention measure through purchasing and acquiring homes with tenants in situis one that is taking hold now and I want local authorities to do it.

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Ó Broin, very briefly..

Photo of Eoin Ó BroinEoin Ó Broin (Dublin Mid West, Sinn Fein)
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It is highly likely that the homeless numbers will reach 11,000 before winter is out. I urge the Minister to reconsider his opposition to a temporary ban on evictions. Such a ban was recently introduced in Scotland. I ask him to go further in the context of tenants in situ. Some local authorities are not taking his advice. In fact, some local authorities are insisting that people must be on the housing list for six, eight, nine or ten years before being considered for the tenants in situscheme. I urge the Minister to issue a circular to say that where a household is imminently at risk of homelessness that the local authority must purchase the property.

There was nothing at all in the budget in terms of new homeless interventions to stop the immediate rise. Will the Minister do more with regard to tenants in situ and consider the introduction of an emergency ban on the eviction of people into homelessness over the winter?

12:00 pm

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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I am meeting every director of housing in the country and the various chief executives on 13 October. I have reinforced the message about purchase with tenants in situ. The Sinn Féin alternative budget contains no specific provision for any increase in-----

Photo of Eoin Ó BroinEoin Ó Broin (Dublin Mid West, Sinn Fein)
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There is funding for 900 tenants in situ.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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No. For any increase in funding-----

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Please, let the Minister answer.

Photo of Eoin Ó BroinEoin Ó Broin (Dublin Mid West, Sinn Fein)
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I ask the Minister not to misrepresent our-----

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Would you let the Minister answer?

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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The Deputy has been trying to talk over me all morning because he does not like the answers he is getting. He does not like the truth.

Photo of Eoin Ó BroinEoin Ó Broin (Dublin Mid West, Sinn Fein)
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The Minister keeps provoking me with his misrepresentations.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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The reality of it is that the Sinn Féin alternative budget-----

Photo of Eoin Ó BroinEoin Ó Broin (Dublin Mid West, Sinn Fein)
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There are 900 tenants in situand 12,000 social homes. The Minister could not even spend the money he was given last year.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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-----makes no specific provision for homeless services or homeless emergency services.

Photo of Eoin Ó BroinEoin Ó Broin (Dublin Mid West, Sinn Fein)
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That is because homelessness would reduce under a Sinn Féin Government-----

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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It is fantasy stuff.

Photo of Eoin Ó BroinEoin Ó Broin (Dublin Mid West, Sinn Fein)
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-----and not increase as it has during the Minister's tenure-----

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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The Sinn Féin numbers just do not add up. None of them do.

Photo of Eoin Ó BroinEoin Ó Broin (Dublin Mid West, Sinn Fein)
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-----to the highest level ever.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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There is no provision for homeless services or emergency services.

Photo of Eoin Ó BroinEoin Ó Broin (Dublin Mid West, Sinn Fein)
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The Minister for homelessness. We have the highest levels of homelessness in the history of the State after two and a half years in office.

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy, please.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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That is it. If the Deputy wants to shout me down all morning, the best of luck to him.

Photo of Eoin Ó BroinEoin Ó Broin (Dublin Mid West, Sinn Fein)
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Shame on the Minister. When it hits 11,000 before Christmas, what will he do then?

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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Would you stop. Sinn Féin made no provision for homeless services at all in its alternative budget.

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Ceann Comhairle; Kildare South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy is letting himself down.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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He has been behaving like this all morning.

Photo of Eoin Ó BroinEoin Ó Broin (Dublin Mid West, Sinn Fein)
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The Government is letting the homeless population of the country down by its inaction.

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.