Written answers

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Homeless Accommodation

Photo of Cian O'CallaghanCian O'Callaghan (Dublin Bay North, Social Democrats)
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104. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government his views on the recent record levels of persons accessing emergency accommodation; the action he is taking to address this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11821/23]

Photo of Chris AndrewsChris Andrews (Dublin Bay South, Sinn Fein)
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136. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government his plans to tackle the rising homeless levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11558/23]

Photo of Peadar TóibínPeadar Tóibín (Meath West, Aontú)
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155. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the steps his Department is taking to reduce the number of persons becoming homeless. [11118/23]

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 104, 136 and 155 together.

The continuing increase in the numbers accessing emergency accommodation is a serious concern for me and for the Government. We are doing everything in our power to tackle this problem, both by increasing housing supply and investing in homelessness prevention.

The budget for 2023 makes provision for €215m in funding for homeless services, an increase from €194m in 2022. The extra funding for Homeless services reflects the priority that this Government is giving to tackling Homelessness.

I have introduced further measures to increase supply, including the voids programme with an emphasis on quick turnaround and re-letting, the pilot expansion of the Repair and Leasing scheme and the reinstatement of the delegated sanction to local authorities for social housing acquisitions, particularly where the tenant is at risk of homelessness. I also want to make it abundantly clear that there are no impediments, from my Department’s point of view, to the acquisition of homes with HAP or RAS tenants in situ and I have strongly advised the local authorities to be proactive in this regard.

To enhance security of tenure for tenants, all new tenancies created on or after 11 June 2022 will become tenancies of unlimited duration once the tenancy has lasted more than six months and no valid notice of termination has been served on the tenant. A landlord may also consent to an existing tenancy being treated as of unlimited duration. The Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2022 continues to provide that a landlord may validly terminate a tenancy on limited grounds.

From 6 July 2022, Part 11 of the Regulation of Providers of Building Works and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2022 amends the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2022 to:

- Extend notice periods, by approximately two months, to be given to tenants when serving a notice of termination (where there has been no breach of tenant obligations) in tenancies of less than three years duration;

- Improve procedures where a landlord is required to make an offer of re-let;

- Require landlords to copy the RTB when serving a notice of termination; and

- Increase from 28 days to 90 days, the period from the date of receipt of a ‘no fault’ NOT for a tenant to submit a dispute as to the NOT’s validity to the RTB for resolution.

Local authorities already oversee a range of homeless prevention and tenancy sustainment measures. Many of these services, including those operated on behalf of local authorities by NGOs, are funded by my Department, including Threshold’s Tenancy Protection Service. This service has been instrumental in preventing homelessness in the first instance and supporting people to remain in their homes.

Furthermore, I have tasked the National Homelessness Action Committee to make recommendations on new prevention measures and I published the Youth Homeless Strategy on 9 November 2022 that sets out 27 distinct actions to prevent young people entering homelessness.

I have also increased the HAP discretion rate from the previous 20%, to a maximum of 35% for all local authority areas.

New income eligibility limits for social housing came into effect on 1 January 2023, the first changes in over a decade. Eligibility thresholds in local authorities across the country have been increased by €5,000, with an estimated 16,000 additional households potentially eligible for social housing support as a result.

Ultimately, increased supply across all tenures is key to eradicating homelessness. Housing supply is increasing under Housing for All. Record State investment of €4.5bn will be made available in 2023 to support the largest State home building programme ever, with 9,100 direct build social homes and 5,500 affordable homes. This week, I announced further measures to increase the supply of social homes including:

- an increase in the number of social housing acquisitions to 1,500 in 2023 to reduce the number of households at risk of homelessness;

- an additional 1,000 homes through Targeted Leasing initiatives in 2023 and 2024; and

- the amendment of the Capital Advance Leasing Facility used by Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) to assist them in their efforts in delivering social homes.

I have also informed Government of plans to give a number of new opportunities to tenants who wish to become homeowners. These include:

- requiring a landlord selling a property to first offer it to the tenant on an independent valuation basis for sale;

- working with AHBs and local authorities to develop a bespoke ‘cost rental’ model for tenants at risk of homelessness but not on social housing supports to continue to rent their homes at existing or market rates.

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 to prevent homelessness, will allow us to meet the challenge of reducing the unacceptable numbers currently in emergency accommodation and ultimately to eradicate homelessness.

My Department will continue to work with local authorities to ensure sufficient funding is made available to support those at risk of or experiencing homelessness.


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