Written answers

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Homeless Persons Supports

Photo of David CullinaneDavid Cullinane (Waterford, Sinn Fein)
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8. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government his plans for addressing rising homelessness figures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32956/22]

Photo of Mark WardMark Ward (Dublin Mid West, Sinn Fein)
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13. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government his response to homelessness and, in particular, the rising levels of family homelessness and the lack of homeless temporary accommodation in the past 12 months. [32748/22]

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 8 and 13 together.

The continuing increase in the numbers accessing emergency accommodation throughout the country is a serious concern. The Government, local authorities and others are making every effort to reduce homelessness. Key to this is the delivery of new social housing and boosting overall supply.

The Government is investing significantly in social and affordable housing, with record funding allocated for current and capital investment in housing this year alone. This year funding is in place to deliver 11,800 social homes, including 9,000 new build homes, thus building on the progress made last year when 9,183 new social homes were provided, a 17% increase on 2020.

More specifically, I have established the National Homeless Action Committee with initial key priorities being the advancement of additional measures to prevent Homelessness and the Youth Homelessness Strategy. The Committee will meet again in early July to further advance these measures.

I am working with Government colleagues and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to provide for an increase in the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) discretion rate to 35% and to expand the couple’s rate to single persons for new tenancies. This will secure more tenancies and prevent new entries to homelessness.

My Department has undertaken a review of Housing Delivery Action Plans which were submitted by local authorities.  These have included specific provision for one-bed units which are critical for exits for single homeless people, and for the delivery of 4-bed units, which are key in supporting exits from homelessness for larger families. 

There will be a new Voids programme for 2022 with an emphasis on quick turnaround and re-letting of vacant social housing stock. In addition, the Government has recently approved a pilot expansion of the Repair and Leasing scheme which will open the scheme to a wider range of owners, by removing the criteria that a property owner must be unable to fund or access funding to bring former vacant commercial and institutional buildings back into use. These measures will make more properties available to be allocated to people on the social housing waiting list, including those in emergency accommodation.

Recently, I also reinstated the delegated sanction to local authorities in respect of social housing acquisitions that meet certain criteria.  This will allow local authorities more flexibility to secure acquisitions which support a household to exit or to prevent homelessness.

It is acknowledged that there are currently severe pressures on access to emergency accommodation in certain areas of the country, which local authorities are working to address. My Department are liaising with Regional Homeless Leads and local authorities, and resources will not be an obstacle to the urgent efforts required.

We are providing more social homes, we are completing more homes in general and we have a strong pipeline of homes commenced. This supply activity, as well as targeted measures specifically centred on homelessness, will allow us to meet the challenge of eradicating homelessness.


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