Pillar One: Address Homelessness


Providing an urgent response to the homeless crisis, Pillar One focuses on taking immediate action to help those on the streets and those in emergency accommodation, including families in hotels.

Additional healthcare and support services will be provided to address addiction and mental health, as well as many of the other underlying issues that can trigger or prolong homelessness. A “whole of Government” approach will be taken to address this challenge, with the co-ordination of inter-agency supports for people who are currently homeless.

To address the unacceptable level of families in emergency accommodation, including hotels, this core pillar of the Action Plan will provide early solutions and an increase in the level of housing made available, including new innovative solutions such as rapid build housing and acquisition of vacant private properties by the Housing Agency.

A key objective is identifying people at risk of losing their homes and to support their efforts to remain in them, with particular emphasis on tenancy sustainment and supporting those in mortgage arrears.

people were recorded as homeless in August 2019

Pillar Actions

2018 saw 5,000+ exits from homelessness nationally. Pillar One’s key actions include early solutions to address the unacceptable level of families in emergency accommodation and the provision of housing:

  • We’ll expand the Housing Assistance Payment’s (HAP) homeless tenancy scheme. In 2018,  households in the Dublin Region benefited from the scheme and 4000+ tenancies were supported under the Dublin Homeless HAP Pilot at the end of 2018 with over 6,100 tenancies set up nationally
  • At the end of of 2018, under the rapid delivery programme, 423 homes had been delivered. Since the programme’s inception, some 40 projects have been added to the pipeline and will deliver over 1,100 homes out to 2021.
  • 1,600 existing vacant units will be sourced by the Housing Agency.
  • At the end of Q4 2018, Housing First programme in Dublin has housed 243 people with a history of rough sleeping or long-term homelessness, of which almost 90% successfully retaining their tenancies. A total of 100 such Housing First tenancies will be delivered in Cork, Galway and Limerick over the coming three years.
  • By the end of December 2017 we had put in place an additional 237 emergency beds for individuals/couples and rough sleepers A further 60 beds were introduced in the Dublin region as part of the response to Storm Emma. A number of new facilities with 200 further emergency beds were delivered by the end of 2018.
  • The HSE’s annual budget for homeless services will be increased by approx. 20% – €6 million. This will provide health, mental health and addiction supports to rough sleepers and people in emergency accommodation, who often have complex needs that must be addressed in tandem with the provision of stable housing. 
  • We’ll keep people in their homes where possible, with financial and legal support for people in mortgage arrears . An Aid and Advice Scheme for people in serious mortgage arrears is in place as part of Abhaile, the National Mortgage Arrears Resolution Service. Tenancy Protection free-phone service has been extended nationwide from 2017.

Ireland’s homelessness in numbers


adults in State-funded emergency accommodation in August 2019


families are included in this total


dependants are associated with these families


rough sleepers recorded in Dublin on 9 April 2019


sustainable exits from homelessness in 2015


sustainable exits from homelessness in 2016


sustainable exits from homelessness in 2017


sustainable exits from homelessness in 2018


tenancies to be created for the entrenched homeless under the Housing First initiative, which Focus Ireland/Peter McVerry Trust are contracted to provide


year construction guarantee on the Rapid-Build units in Ballymun


homeless households, at the end of 2018, have been supported under the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP)


tenancies supported under the Dublin Homeless HAP Pilot at the end of 2018


Active HAP tenancies at the end of 2018


is the approximate number of Rent Supplement tenancies that were protected in a two-year period under a Department of Social Protection initiative to protect clients at risk of homelessness as a result of increased rents

Supporting Homeless Families

Rebuilding Ireland includes the objective that hotels will only be used in limited circumstances as emergency accommodation for families. It is recognised that hotel accommodation is inappropriate for accommodating homeless families for anything other than a short period of time.

To meet this objective, in addition to providing for long-term housing needs, housing authorities have been pursuing the delivery of a range of additional and enhanced family-focused facilities, or family hubs, which offer a greater degree of stability than is possible in hotels and B&B accommodation, while move-on options to long-term independent living are identified and secured.  Continued presentations of families into homelessness services mean that it is still necessary to use hotels in some cases. It is expected that the use of hotels will reduce as more family hubs are developed.

Rapid-Build Housing

Rapid-build housing offers a more stable environment than the use of hotels for families in need of emergency accommodation. At the end of 2018, under the rapid delivery programme, 423 homes had been delivered. Since the programme’s inception some 40 projects have been added to the pipeline and will deliver over 1,100 homes out to 2021

Expanded ‘Housing First’ Programme

Through ‘Housing First’ we will provide permanent, stable and supported housing to our long-term homeless individuals and thus reduce the reliance on emergency accommodation over time. As of Q4 2018, Housing First in Dublin has housed 243 people with a history of rough sleeping or long-term homelessness, with almost 90% successfully retaining their tenancies. A total of 100 such Housing First tenancies will be delivered in Cork, Galway and Limerick over the coming three years.


Sourcing Vacant Housing Units

The Housing Agency will acquire 1,600 vacant properties, a number of which will be used to provide permanent homes for homeless families. 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. These 1,600 units will be delivered by 2020.

Since the launch of Rebuilding Ireland in July 2016 and as of 31 December 2018, the Agency has signed contracts for 630 units and 583 of these purchases have closed.  The process of selling properties on to Approved Housing Bodies is well underway.  As of 31 December 2018, the Agency has purchase option agreements for 230 properties with Approved Housing Bodies. All of these properties are now under Caretaker Leases. To date, the onward sale of 290 units to AHBs have been completed in full and the Agency has received €60.7m from AHBs for these units.

The increased supply of social housing targeted in Rebuilding Ireland’s plan, 50,000 homes by the end of 2021, will also ensure that more homes are provided for those who are homeless and for those at risk of homelessness.

Housing Assistance Payment for Homeless Households (HAP)

The Homeless Pilot of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme has been operational since February 2015 and we have expanded it to increase the transition of households from emergency accommodation into private rented tenancies. In 2018, 4000+ tenancies were supported under the Dublin Homeless HAP Pilot.

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Supporting Homeless People with Mental Health & Addiction Issues

A new National Drugs Strategy is currently being prepared by the Department of Health for implementation from January 2017 onwards and it will include specific strategies and actions to address the rehabilitation needs of homeless people with addiction issues. We will improve mental health and primary care services for homeless people with an additional funding allocation of €2 million this year which will be increased to €6 million in 2017.  

Emergency Shelters

In order to minimise the need for people to sleep rough, we are committed to ensuring that there are sufficient emergency beds available in our urban centres for homeless individuals.  We will urgently review the current availability of temporary emergency accommodation and supported temporary accommodation in our main urban areas to determine appropriate availability consistent with need.  

Supporting Families with Children

Over 2016 - 2017, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) and Tusla, the child and family agency, will continue to operate the Dublin Region protocol in relation to appropriate responses to child protection and welfare concerns among families in emergency accommodation. The operation of this protocol will be reviewed in December 2016 and refined as appropriate. These protocol arrangements will be extended nationally. A review and revision of the protocol has been completed and arrangements are in hand for its extension to other regions on a phased basis throughout 2017. The following additional measures will be put in place primarily by the Department of Children & Youth Affairs (DCYA) and Tusla, but also with input from Department of Housing, Planning, Community & Local Government (DHPCLG) in relation to public transport costs:
  • Dedicated Child Support workers will be appointed. The workers will develop support plans for children and families with a particular focus on those with specific needs.
  • Home School Community Liaison and School Completion staff will assist children and families experiencing homelessness to maintain regular school attendance and prioritised access to the School Completion Programme for services such as breakfast and homework clubs. Access to free public transport will be provided for school journeys and outings away from the emergency accommodation.
  • Access to crèches and pre-school services will be provided to homeless families.
  • Family support for those in emergency accommodation by providing off-site family time including play, homework, cooking and washing facilities and parent support.
  • Tusla will appoint specific staff to assist in accessing requisite family support and child welfare services and managing any difficulties that arise for children in relation to school participation.
  • The nutritional needs of families and children will be addressed.
  • A joined-up approach will be promoted between education, health (including public health nursing) and Tusla to meet the needs of homeless families, by using the existing Children and Young People’s Service Committees.
  • A safety guidance/voluntary code for child safety in emergency accommodation will also be produced and reviewed. A new facility with accommodation for pregnant women who are homeless will be provided.

Young People Leaving State Care

Across 2016 - 2017 we will work to ensure that young people leaving State care and at risk of homelessness are identified and catered for through appropriate housing and other supports for their needs.  

Domestic Violence

Tusla will provide additional emergency refuge spaces for victims of domestic violence and DHPCLG will provide guidance to housing authorities on the role they can play to assist victims in securing new, independent tenancies. This provision will take place over 2016 - 2017.  


We will enhance and implement national procedures and inter-agency arrangements to ensure that prisoners, including sex offenders, do not exit prison into homelessness.  

National Awareness Campaign

In 2017 a national awareness campaign will be rolled out, targeted at families and individuals worried about, or at risk of losing their homes. The Threshold Tenancy Protection Service will be extended nationwide.  

Mortgage Arrears

We will request the Central Bank to conduct an assessment of existing sustainable restructuring solutions across all lenders and non-bank entities operating in Ireland and will ensure there are sustainable restructuring solutions available to distressed borrowers.  

Mortgage Arrears Resolution Service

We will provide access to independent expert legal and financial advice for people who are insolvent and are in serious mortgage arrears on their home. We will also ensure that an insolvent person who is at risk of losing their home can access independent advice which will help them to identify their best options, for returning to solvency – with priority given to remaining in their home, where that is a sustainable option.  The Abhaile Service has been launched details here. In 2017 the Government will work with the Central Bank to ensure that the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears provides a strong consumer protection framework for borrowers struggling with their mortgage repayments.  

Mortgage to Rent

We will examine how the Mortgage to Rent scheme can be improved to facilitate more households, and explore alternative models for the purchase of units, including long-term leasing arrangements. The review of this scheme has taken place and the details are here.

Pillar Two: Accelerate Social Housing

Pillar Three: Build More Homes

Pillar Four: Improve the Rental Sector

Pillar Five: Utilise Existing Housing

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