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Fingal Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien faces questions on ‘alarming’ increase in homelessness

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Darragh O'Brien

Darragh O'Brien

Darragh O'Brien

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A Sinn Féin Deputy has asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage and local TD, Darragh O’Brien to outline the measures he is taking to address the “alarming” increase in homelessness in recent months.

Questioning the Minister in the Dáil recently, Deputy Eoin Ó Broin made reference to “another significant increase” in adult and child homelessness in respect of emergency accommodation funded by the Minister’s Department.

According to Deputy Ó’Broin, there were an extra 91 adults and 133 children – a month-on-month increase from March to April of 224 people.

Deputy O’Broin said that, based on the current trajectory, “we could hit the figure of having 11,000 people in emergency accommodation funded by the Minister’s Department by the end of the summer.”

The Sinn Féin Deputy asked the Minister to outline what additional measures he intends to take "to halt an reverse this worrying trend?”

Minister O’Brien, replying to Deputy Ó’Broin, said: “The recent increase in homelessness is of great concern to me and to the Government, as it is to all Members of the House. I assure the House that we are doing everything in our power to tackle this problem.

"As the Deputy is aware, I established the national homeless action committee, which I chair and which is made up of representatives from my Department, all the State agencies and the NGOs, to ensure that we address prevention and exits from homelessness.

“In addition to the measures already in place, to get to the Deputy’s specific question, I am working with my Government colleagues and with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to provide for an increase in the housing assistance payment, HAP, discretionary rate to 35%.”

The Minister added: "This has been agreed by the Government and will be implemented shortly. The couple’s rate will also be extended to single persons for new tenancies. This again is another significant change and it will secure more tenancies and prevent more entries into homelessness.”

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"Furthermore, in the Seanad this week, I will bring forward some changes to the notice-to-quit period to alleviate some of these pressures.”

According to Minister O'Brien, the government has also approved a pilot expansion that will open the repair and lease scheme to a wider range of owners. These properties will be available for social housing.

The Minister’s Department has also approved the reintroduction of the place finder fee incentive by the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive, DRHE, he said. 

This will be payable where suitable properties are made available exclusively to homeless families through the DRHE place finders team and are not advertised on websites or elsewhere.

Minister O'Brien added: “Targeted measures such as these, along with the provision of more homes, and the crucial point is that we must increase the supply of social homes, are key to meeting the challenge of eradicating homelessness.

"To this end, as the Deputy will know, we are investing significantly in social and affordable housing, with record funding allocated for current and capital expenditure this year."


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