Thursday, 15 October 2020
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
As Minister, I have said on a number of occasions that I am particularly concerned about the number of single adults accessing homelessness services. Single adults represent over 75% of the total number of households accessing homelessness services and in recognition of this fact I launched a ‘Call for Housing 2020’ in July, with a particular focus on sourcing one bed properties.
I have also allocated €40 million for the refurbishment of 2,500 vacant properties which will be completed and allocated to people on the social housing list this year. The Programme for Government recognises the importance of ensuring an appropriate mix of housing design types and aims to continue to expand the Housing First approach with a focus on the construction and acquisition of one-bed homes and the provision of relevant supporting services.
Preventing people from entering homelessness in the first instance is a top priority for my Department and that is why at the end of July I brought forward the Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act 2020. The Act came into effect on August 1st and protects tenants experiencing rent arrears from eviction/rent increases prior to 11th January 2021, and applies nationwide subject to the tenant making an appropriate declaration. The Programme for Government commits to improving security and affordability for all renters. To achieve this, the Government is developing a Cost Rental model and programme for delivery of housing that creates affordability for tenants and a sustainable model for construction and management of homes.
In Dublin, where homelessness is most pronounced, we know that from the start of 2020, 59% of families presenting to homeless services were prevented from having to enter emergency accommodation by way of a tenancy having been created. Indeed, during the second quarter of 2020 alone, two out of every three families who presented to homeless services were prevented from having to enter emergency accommodation in Dublin. It is due to progress such as this that we have seen the number of families accessing emergency accommodation nationally fall to its lowest number since June 2016.
The Homeless HAP Place finder service is an important aid for homeless households or households who are in danger of falling into homelessness, and who are finding it difficult to secure HAP tenancies. The Place Finder service has proven to be very effective, with HAP responsible for approximately 65% of the exits from homelessness recorded in 2019. More than 11,500 tenancies entered the HAP scheme on foot of a referral from a local authority Homeless Unit by end Q1 2020.
Other important homelessness prevention services include the national Tenancy Protection Service which is provided by Threshold with funding from my Department. This service links tenants at risk of losing their homes to Local Authorities and with Social Protection services in order for them to access supports before becoming homeless, enabling them to continue in their existing tenancies.
My Department is also working with the Residential Tenancies Board in ensuring that vulnerable households in the private rented sector are fully aware of their rights and where tenancies are terminated resulting in households becoming homeless.
I have also established a High Level Homelessness Taskforce and I am also in regular contact with my colleague the Minister for Health, as I believe a strong collaboration between both Departments will help those with complex health and mental health needs successfully exit homelessness.
Budget 2021, which was announced on 13 October, makes provision for €218m in funding for homeless services. This is an increase of €22m on 2020 (€196m) or an increase of 11%. This additional funding in 2021 reflects the priority that I as Minister, and the Government, is giving to homelessness.