Statement by Minister Murphy on the reports of the
Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and Inter-Agency Group on Homelessness

On 19th June 2018, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, published two new reports received in relation to homelessness, one prepared by the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive, and one prepared by the Inter-Agency Group on Homelessness.

Commenting on the two reports, Minister Murphy said:

“I very much welcome these two separate reports on homelessness. The report from the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive was one I requested earlier this year to investigate and help the Government develop more responsive policies to some emerging trends in homelessness.

It speaks to some of the progress that is being made. For example:

  • the rate of increase of families accessing emergency accommodation slowed in 2017, when compared to previous years. The number of families accessing emergency accommodation across the State rose by 90% and 55% in 2015 and 2016 respectively.  By 2017, the rate of increase had slowed to 17%;
  • the situation would appear to be stabilising in Dublin, which has traditionally been the area with the biggest challenge. The number of families accessing emergency accommodation in Dublin rose by 106% and 51% in 2015 and 2016 respectively.  By 2017, the rate of increase had slowed to 9%;
  • With the introduction of family hubs, families are spending less time in emergency accommodation before exiting into tenancies. Of the families who entered emergency accommodation in 2016, 45% of these have successfully exited emergency accommodation within six months.
  • the number of people sleeping rough has fallen dramatically by 40% and the cold weather and storm-related initiatives have helped bring people off the streets and in to the system; and
  • Housing First is working, with a new National Director, targets for the country, and a retention rate of almost 90%, so keeping people out of homelessness once we get them in to a home.

Of course the value of this report is that it also highlights some concerns and issues that need to be addressed so that we can provide the right supports and interventions to those who need them.

Clearly, new actions will be needed to make sure that we can find sustainable and successful exits from emergency accommodation for families, individuals, those with long-term support needs, and those whose status in Ireland is uncertain.

It is my intention to discuss the reports and proposed policy responses to those reports with the local authorities at the forthcoming Housing Summit in July. My Department will also be engaging with other Government Departments and Agencies in relation to the recommendations set out in the reports. Furthermore, I will be discussing the reports at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government, when we meet regarding homelessness on Wednesday 20th June 2018.

As the DRHE report says, homeless services are perceived by many to be a catch-all solution that provides accommodation and support for vulnerable people, many with different and challenging needs that require more complex solutions. Homeless services aren’t necessarily the best solution for these people, and that is why the Inter-Agency Group has been looking at this matter in more depth, to see how we can better care for our more vulnerable citizens.

The Inter-Agency Group was established following the first Housing Summit in September of 2017, to better co-ordinate state-led supports to those currently in emergency accommodation. It has produced a report detailing its work to date, and proposed a number of recommendations

At Cabinet, agreement was reached to pursue these recommendations; that work has already begun.

We continue to face a crisis when it comes to the number of people in emergency accommodation, as well as the risk to individuals who may find themselves needing to access homeless services in to the future. Resolving these issues is a central pillar of Rebuilding Ireland, which is making progress; but until the matter is resolved it will continue to be my highest priority. We will put in place every care and support necessary for those in emergency accommodation as we ramp up the supply of new homes and bring greater protections to the rental sector.

A third Housing Summit with the Chief Executives of each of the local authorities will take place on Tuesday 3rd July 2018.  I have, again, stressed that local authorities must focus with great urgency and innovation on tackling homelessness.  Funding is not an issue and the Government will not be found wanting in supporting local authorities in both preventing families and individuals from entering homelessness, and  working with those who are experiencing homelessness in securing suitable accommodation.