Housing Minister says 800 extra social homes will be built in 2018

Eoghan Murphy has also announced 200 additional emergency beds for Dublin by the end of the year

Housing Minister says 800 extra social homes will be built in 2018

Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Updated 19.35

200 extra emergency beds are being made available in Dublin by December, the Housing Minister has announced.

100 of those beds are due to be in place by the end of October.

It's among a number of announcements made by Eoghan Murphy this evening following an emergency housing summit.

Minister Murphy has also revealed a change in the Government's social house building policy, saying the budget will be "redirected away from acquisitions and in to direct build programmes for local authorities and housing bodies".

An additional 800 social houses are expected to be built around the country next year as a result, on top of the previous target of 3,000.

He has also ring-fenced €10 million in additional funding for family hubs, while families wishing to move to areas outside Dublin will be 'facilitated' wherever possible.

Landlords, meanwhile, will be required to notify the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) when issuing a notice of termination to a tenant. 

The RTB will then contact the tenants with advice and guidance.

An inter-agency group will also be set up for to deliver homeless services "in a coherent and joined-up way between the relevant departments and agencies".

Health Minister Simon Harris, meanwhile, will provide €1.5m this year to improve homeless health supports and services - with the budget set to be increased next year.

The Housing Department says "as new measures are finalised and agreed, they will be announced".

The full list of measures announced today has been published by the Department of Housing.

"First step"

Minister Murphy responded to criticism that the numbers of homeless keep rising, after figures yesterday showed more than 200 more people had become homeless in July.

He explained: "We are giving every help that we can from the Department of Housing, but also from every other Government department, agency & service, as are the voluntary sector.

"Sometimes no matter what we do, it won't be enough - but that doesn't mean that we don't have to keep on trying, and we will."

The Simon Communities welcomed the outcome of today's summit, saying it is a "first step to make a real impact [for] people experiencing homeless and housing insecurity".

Spokesperson Niamh Randall explained: "We hope that today will be a line in the sand reflecting a much needed proactive approach.

"Housing supply will take time to come on stream so it is welcome that there is also a major focus on prevention, stemming the flow of people and families moving into homelessness."

Pat Doyle of the Peter McVerry Trust released a video statement also welcoming today's statement from Minister Murphy:

Inner City Helping Homeless CEO Anthony Flynn - who confronted the Minister outside the summit earlier - gave a mixed reaction to the announcements.

While he praised measures such as the extra emergency beds and the inter-agency taskforce, he also warned: "An additional 800 units isn't what is required to really address the current demand for social housing.

"The Minister stated to me this morning that funding wasn't an issue in tackling homelessness and if that is truly the case then there should have been additional budget to deliver enough social housing units to satisfy demand." 

Mr Flynn said the Minister has agreed to meet him at a later date to discuss the organisation's experiences on the ground.

Sinn Féin, however, said Minister Murphy "has not grasped the gravity" of the homeless crisis.

The party's housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin argued: "[Minister Murphy's] high level homeless summit was nothing more than a PR exercise.

“While some of the measures announced this evening are welcome they do not amount to any meaningful change of policy direction. Unfortunately many of tonight’s announcements are meaningless commitments designed to give the impression of action where none exists."

He added that the Minister's statement will give "little comfort" to the adults and children spending the night in emergency accommodation.