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Apartments plan for hostel homeless

THE city's homeless population is to be housed in apartment-type accommodation rather than hostels.

In a radical shake-up, the four local authorities in the capital are seeking to take "all hostel-type and one-night-stay accommodation... out of the service delivery system".

Instead, 200 units of "supported and temporary accommodation" will be established.

"Supported temporary accommodation will mean that there are 24-hour care and support services for homeless people with complex and diverse needs in addition to a housing need," a report by city council executive manager Ciaran Dunne stated.

He added that the Dublin local authorities have also set a target of putting in place about 1,200 units of long-term accommodation by end of 2010 to address the housing needs of homeless people.

The councils are using Housing Minister Michael Finneran's social leasing initiative to find suitable accommodation.

Through this scheme, private owners lease properties to local authorities to provide homes to people on the social housing list. Mr Dunne said current transitional housing would be phased out over 2010.

The Homeless Agency Partnership, which covers Dublin city and county, is responsible for implementing the agreed homeless action plan.

The partnership "is implementing measures which are designed to eliminate long-term homelessness and the need to sleep rough in Dublin by end 2010," Mr Dunne said.

He added that the use of private emergency accommodation is also to be phased out.

Mr Dunne said a recent count of the number of people sleeping rough across the four local authority areas in Dublin "confirms a continuing decline".

"The count takes place in spring and winter of each year, with 60 people confirmed to be sleeping rough on a specific night in November and 98 people in April of this year," he revealed.

"Of those who gave their details about their nationality, 23 were Irish or presumed Irish, seven were Polish, nine from other EU states, eight from outside the EU and 13 were unknown," Mr Dunne said.

He added: "On the night of the rough sleeper counts in the four local authority areas, there was sufficient capacity to accommodate the number of persons discovered and observed to be rough sleeping."

Mr Dunne said it was extremely important to note that "the implementation of the new model/ reconfiguration of existing services must be achieved on a cost neutral basis.

"There will be continuing efforts to ensure efficiencies and effectiveness of services by the statutory agencies going forward."

The homeless partnership brings together key statutory agencies such as the Dublin local authorities, the HSE and the Probation Service.