Saturday 23 February 2019

Government promises to end long-term homelessness by 2016

Ralph Riegel

THE Government has vowed to eradicate long-term homelessness by the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising.

Housing Minister Jan O'Sullivan defended the new strategy as achievable despite the fact the former Fianna Fáil-led Government failed to make the same target with greater resources by 2011.

She insisted the goal can now be achieved by a better use of resources including switching the focus from emergency shelters towards medium to long term housing for the homeless.

The new strategy was devised in close co-operation with Focus Ireland.

Ireland spends on average more than Euro 100m annually in homelessness supports through State and Health Service Executive (HSE) payments.

"We intend to move away from the 'staircase' model which sees families move between various stages including emergency shelters before eventually securing an appropriate place," she told the Irish Independent.

"We have to ensure that value for money is delivered and that valuable resources are used in the best possible way."

She said that it was simply not acceptable for homeless people to spend months and years in various emergency shelters.

Over 3,000 people are homeless in Ireland.

A study conducted into homelessness supports indicated that the taxpayers was not getting value for money in specific strategic areas.

A key element of the new strategy will be the Government and local authorities getting access to NAMA housing stock as well as leasing rather than buying or building housing units.

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