Monday 26 September 2016

Additional 200 beds and other measures pledged to end homelessness crisis

Published 22/09/2016 | 13:00

Homeless boy on O'Connell Bridge, Dublin. Photo: Douglas O'Connor.
Homeless boy on O'Connell Bridge, Dublin. Photo: Douglas O'Connor.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Government will host a summit on Thursday involving those fighting homelessness

Senior government ministers have pledged to bring an end to the homelessness crisis through a series of measures which include the introduction of 200 additional beds for rough sleepers.

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At least 1,500 so-called rapid build units, also known as modular homes, will be built by the end of 2018.

And the Housing Agency will purchase 1,600 vacant properties, a number of which the Government says will be used to provide permanent homes for homeless families.

The latest figures show that 4,248 adults used emergency accommodation during a week in August 2016.

This is an increase of 26pc on the same figures in 2015.

In total, there were 1,151 families in emergency accommodation last month. The vast majority of these were in Dublin.

At Government buildings today, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and a number of senior ministers detailed plans to address the crisis.

Mr Kenny says the "first priority" is to move families out of "inappropriate" accommodation such as hotels.

The Government's Action Plan for Housing and homelessness commits to doing so by mid-2017, except in "limited circumstances".

Some 1,750 tenancies under the homeless HAP scheme will be secured by the end of 2017.

A "one stop shop" assessment centre will be put in place for families presenting as homeless.

The plan also contains measures aimed at helping children who are homeless.

Dedicated child support workers will be put in place through a new initiative.

Health Minister Simon Harris confirmed that €2m extra will be given to the HSE to provide support for homeless people with health needs.

In relation to mortgage arrears, Housing Minister Simon Coveney said the need further legislation in this year will be examined. The mortgage-to-rent scheme will also be revamped.

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