Government to provide 200 extra emergency beds for rough sleepers before 2017

Simon Coveney admits the government is "running to stand still"

Simon Coveney

Simon Coveney at the launch of the government's housing action plan in July 2016 | File photo: RollingNews.ie

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney has reiterated his commitment to ending the use of hotels for homeless accommodation, except in limited circumstances, by mid-2017.

Mr Coveney was speaking at a briefing to provide an update on the progress of a major plan against homelessness, launched two months ago.

The event came just days after a report showed that over half of people in emergency accommodation have been homeless for more than two years.

The minister said that good progress has been made so far, claiming that 1,350 people have exited homelessness in the first six months of this year.

Under the 'Rebuilding Ireland' plan, an additional 200 emergency beds will be provided for rough sleepers by the end of 2016, at a cost of up to €4m.

The commitments include:

  • The provision of 1,500 ‘rapid build’ units by 2018;
  • An expansion of HAP homeless tenancies from 550 this year to 1,200 in 2017;
  • The purchasing of 1,600 vacant properties by the Housing Agency;
  • A rise in the supply of social housing, to 47,000 homes by the end of 2021;
  • A tripling in HSE funding next year (€6 million) to provide health supports to homeless people;
  • An increase in the target for Housing First teams in Dublin from 100 to 300 tenancies.

However, Mr Coveney admitted that the government is "running to stand still" because of the numbers in need of emergency accommodation.

"There's a view that this problem is getting worse and worse and worse, and nobody is doing anything about it," he said.

"That isn't a fair reflection. There are people working night and day but they're not keeping pace with the numbers coming into homelessness. That's the problem."

Focus Ireland has welcomed the additional details presented at today’s relaunch but warned that more needs to be done to halt the rise in homeless figures.

The charity revealed last week that 72 families became newly homeless in Dublin in August alone.

Director Mike Allen said: "The minister has repeatedly referred to tackling homelessness being like trying to empty the bath with the taps full on but there is very little in this plan to turn off the taps now."