How we are meeting the
challenge of homelessness’

Funding

Budget 2017 provides for a 40% increase in the level of funding allocated nationally for housing authority managed homeless services, with funding of approximately €98 million compared to initial provision of €70 million in 2016. The additional funding will ensure that the increased demand for emergency homeless services is effectively addressed and will assist in supporting homeless households with long-term housing solutions.

Last year we spent €935 million on social housing. This year that will increase to a spend of €1.3 billion. This will ensure that 21,000 families will have their housing needs met.

Ending the use of hotels and emergency accommodation

The Government is committed to only using hotels as emergency accommodation for families in exceptional circumstances, by mid-year and against this background, the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Local Authorities, Approved Housing Bodies, NGO’s and a range of stakeholders are working to deliver on this ambitious target.

The use of hotels for emergency accommodation is a much more significant issue in the Dublin Region than in the rest of the country – over 80% of homeless families are in the Dublin Region. The aim is that by mid-2017, hotels will only be used for emergency accommodation in very limited circumstances.

The target will be achieved by placing families in more suitable and appropriate accommodation. The Housing Assistance Payment Scheme (HAP), will be a critical vehicle, through which families will exit from commercial hotels and B&Bs. To date in 2017, 467 Homeless HAP tenancies have been achieved and this housing support has enabled many families to exit homelessness and live in suitable accommodation, while also is enabling them to work.

“Last year we spent €935 million on social housing. This year that will increase to a spend of €1.3 billion. This will ensure that 21,000 families will have their housing needs met.”

The other mechanisms that will be used to exit families from commercial hotels and B&Bs include the following:

  • A  number of families will be accommodated in Supported Family Facilities, by end June 2017. These facilities, such as the Respond facility recently opened in High Park, Drumcondra, provide families with child-friendly accommodation and a range of family supports. While move-on options to long-term living are identified and secured.
  • Families will also be accommodated in Rapid Build units, as they are completed.
  • Approved Housing Bodies and Local Authorities are working together to accelerate delivery of Repair and Leasing units.
  • A significant number of properties are being leased, built and acquired by Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies and these will be made available to those on the social housing lists, including homeless families.

Housing Assistance Payment

Homeless HAP in Dublin encompasses both additional flexibility to exceed the specific rent limit by up to 50% therefore providing access to a greater number of properties, and a dedicated Homeless Placefinder Service. The Placefinder Service is specifically tasked with identifying and securing tenancies for homeless households in emergency accommodation. The service has relationships with local estate agents and property owners and can identify properties quickly. In addition, the Placefinder Service can support homeless households to secure the tenancy by providing upfront payments for deposits and one month’s rent up front.

  • This targeted support secured 810 homeless HAP tenancies in Dublin in 2016. The target set for the scheme in 2016 was 550.
  • A total of 1,300 approx. homeless households are currently being supported by HAP in Dublin.
  • 2017 target is to support 1,200 additional homeless households. 467 homeless households have been supported by the scheme in 2017 to date (3/4/2017). This translates as approximately 38 homeless households a week in 2017, double the rate that delivered 810 units in 2016.

The activity of the Dublin Placefinder Service is being intensified with a particular focus on supporting homeless families to exit emergency hotel accommodation before July. On the basis of this increased focus and targeting, it is expected that the average weekly number tenancies will increase significantly.

Under Action 1.12 of Rebuilding Ireland the Dublin Region Homeless Executive is committed to tripling the target for tenancies under its Housing First programme from 100 to 300. This Housing First programme is operated under a contract which is being delivered through a joint consortium of Focus Ireland and the Peter McVerry Trust.

General

With regard to the Rapid-Delivery Housing Programme, at the end of 2016, a total of 350 rapid build homes were advancing through various stages of delivery, including construction, with 22 rapid build homes being delivered and occupied in 2016. A further 650 rapid build homes will be advanced in 2017, with another 500 units to be delivered in 2018.

The Housing Agency will acquire 1,600 vacant housing units over the period to 2020. The Housing Agency will be directly funded with €70 million in capital Exchequer funding to find and acquire suitable portfolios of vacant properties for social housing, including homeless families, directly from financial institutions and investors. The Housing Agency has accepted bids on 336 dwellings with a value of €54.2 million, of these the agency has signed contracts for a total of 238 properties since the launch of Rebuilding Ireland. Bids are pending on the remaining 98 dwellings.

Exits from homelessness

Housing authorities assisted in just over 3,000 sustainable exits from homelessness nationally during 2016, a record level of exits, with a comparable figure of 2,300 in 2015.