I am glad to have the opportunity to respond to the Deputies. This week we learned of the tragic death of a man on the grounds of Galway City Hall on Monday, 15 October. I join the Taoiseach and others in this House in extending my sympathies and condolences to the family of the man who died. Clearly, this is a very difficult time for those involved, and I ask that we respect the privacy of the family and do not speculate on the circumstances of the deceased or the cause of his death.
As to the need for the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, to visit Galway city and to see the housing situation for himself, I assure the Deputies that he is fully cognisant of the housing issues and pressures in Galway city. The Minister recently visited Galway and held discussions with senior officials in the council on homelessness and wider housing issues.
The Government is increasing the funding to all local authorities to provide services to those experiencing homelessness. This year the estimated expenditure on homeless services for the west, of which Galway City Council is one of four local authorities, is €5.2 million. This will increase further in 2019.
Supporting rough sleepers is a particular priority. Last month, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government and the Minister for Health jointly launched the national implementation plan for Housing First. Many of those rough sleeping have requirements for significant health supports. As such, Housing First is a collaboration between the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Department of Health, the HSE and the local authorities. Housing First recognises that a stable home environment is critical to the success of all other interventions, and by providing the necessary supports alongside rather than in advance of a home, we can empower people to tackle the issues that resulted in them becoming homeless in the first place.
The implementation plan will see this highly effective programme to reduce and end rough sleeping and long-term homelessness extended nationwide. The plan sets an overall target of more than 660 tenancies, with individual targets for each local authority. It is one of the most significant responses by the State to date in dealing with long-term homelessness. Under the plan, 30 Housing First tenancies will be created for Galway city over the next three years, with a further 19 tenancies in Galway county. A tender process is under way in Galway to deliver these tenancies. Supports for families experiencing homelessness in Galway city are also being reinforced. Galway city’s first family hub is due to open in early 2019. Galway City Council has also identified a site for the roll-out of a modular hub development to be operational in the first half of 2019. It is expected that 15 families will be accommodated for up to six months at a time on this site, if necessary. The principal advantages of these units are that they are quick to erect on site, portable and redeployable elsewhere. A place finder service has been put in place, with a dedicated officer funded by the Department, to support households experiencing homelessness in identifying and securing a property in the private rented market.
The long-term solution to homelessness is increasing the supply of homes, as I am sure the Deputies will agree. A range of measures are being progressed in this regard under Rebuilding Ireland to accelerate all types of housing supply, including social, private and affordable. By 2021, 50,000 new social houses will be provided and housing output generally will be progressively increased towards the target of producing 25,000 houses per year. Galway City Council has a target to deliver 145 new social homes in 2018 and about 1,100 between 2018 and 2021 through build, acquisition and leasing initiatives. In addition, in 2018, a further 254 families or individuals will be housed through the HAP or the rental accommodation scheme. This will bring the total delivery of social housing supports in 2018 to approximately 400.
Despite all of those numbers, I am well aware of the pressures in Galway. Those pressures were there when I was the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government and they persist. There are pressures in other cities too. What we are doing is ensuring that, from a financial perspective, local authorities are supported. There should be enough emergency accommodation in every town and city in the country for individuals and families who find themselves homeless but, if there is not, we are committed to putting the resources in place to provide such accommodation.