Written answers

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Emergency Accommodation

Photo of Bríd SmithBríd Smith (Dublin South Central, People Before Profit Alliance)
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147. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if he can clarify the additional supports or arrangements that he has in place in terms of emergency provision of beds and accommodation for those persons who face eviction in April 2023; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11881/23]

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Fianna Fail)
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My Department's role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the statutory role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at local level. Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of emergency accommodation and related services for homeless persons rests with individual housing authorities. The purposes for which housing authorities may incur expenditure in addressing homelessness are prescribed in Section 10 of the Housing Act 1988.

My Department does not fund any homeless services directly but provides funding to housing authorities towards these costs. Under the funding arrangements, housing authorities must provide at least 10% of the cost of services from their own resources. Housing authorities may also incur additional expenditure on homeless related services outside of these funding arrangements with my Department.

Under the Exchequer funding arrangements in place between the Department and housing authorities, decisions on the funding, organisation and range of accommodation services to be provided are a matter for the individual housing authorities in consultation with the Statutory Management Group of the relevant regional Joint Homelessness Consultative Forum, and my Department has no function in relation to operational matters. It is a matter for the Management Group to bring forward proposals to my Department that meet the needs of homeless individuals in their administrative area.

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

The funding will allow local authorities to continue to focus on preventing homelessness in the first instance and to provide support to those at risk of or experiencing homelessness. It will also aid in the further expansion of the Housing First approach in line with commitments made in Housing for All, provide for a planned extension of outreach and intensive engagement services to our most vulnerable and provide accommodation to those experiencing homelessness. Additionally there remains a firm focus on ensuring that pathways out of homelessness for those individuals and families in emergency accommodation are secured as quickly as possible.

The aim of the Residential Tenancies (Deferment of Termination Dates of Certain Tenancies) Act 2022 is to afford time for housing supply to increase and to reduce the burden on homelessness services and the pressure on tenants and the residential tenancies market. To assist in managing demands on housing services after the winter emergency period and ensure that there is no cliff edge impact on 1 April, the Act provides for deferred Notices of Termination to take effect on a phased basis over the period from 1 April to 18 June 2023. The Government has used the past several months to increase housing supply for those most in need. In the last Quarter of 2022, approximately 4,800 new build social housing homes were delivered, along with some 500 acquisitions. 600 lease arrangements were put in place to provide further capacity. In addition, 1,532 local authority homes were refurbished under the voids programme and restored to use, as well as the provision of 500 emergency beds and 150 cold weather beds.

On 7 March, I announced further measures to increase the supply of social homes to mitigate the impact of the end of the winter emergency period 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.
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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