This is the second discussion on housing this week. This is an important issue and there is no harm in taking this opportunity to go back over some of the information we discussed earlier in the week and to update the House on Rebuilding Ireland. Unfortunately, a great deal of misinformation was given out during the week. It was disappointing to hear inaccurate and generalised commentary from colleagues across the floor. For most people, the solution now is about politics but we would also like to discuss policies when it comes to housing and housing solutions. Many of the speeches of Deputies did not go near policy and focused only on politics, which was a strange approach.
When good, sensible ideas are put forward we will try to tweak Rebuilding Ireland to include them. We have differences of opinion on certain areas such as large sites, but in other areas where we can address quirks in the system, we will do so. For example, two or three weeks ago, Deputy Jan O'Sullivan requested funding for Traveller-specific accommodation. We took on board that idea and we will spend funding in this area to buy houses. We are willing to listen and change when sensible evidence-based proposals are made. However, much of the commentary in the past week has been unclear. It is disappointing that some Members chose to use the challenging and difficult circumstances that some families and individuals find themselves in to score political points, rather than put forward solutions that can help those households who are experiencing homelessness and housing issues.
As I said on Tuesday evening, Members have made suggestions and expressed ideas here and there and some have proposed legislation. Our job with regard to Rebuilding Ireland was to produce a whole-of-Government plan that brings all Departments together. As with the approach taken in the Action Plan for Jobs, Rebuilding Ireland includes a list of actions that must be taken. I accept that Members have proposed various interventions and ideas but no one has produced a complete plan which, site by site, makes things happen on the ground. It is all very well having nice suggestions and ideas. One Fianna Fáil Deputy said we should build 50,000 houses next year, as if one could pick them out of the sky. It does not work that way.
Deputy McDonald claimed she had the most ambitious plan for social housing. When we add up all the figures in that plan for the next ten years, it is not as ambitious as the Government's plan. Let us have full plans and let us fully tease them out. If the Opposition wants us to scrap our plan, it should produce a full plan of its own, rather than bits and pieces. Somebody has to pull all of this together and the Government has done that. I accept that Deputies have different ideas but they should come up with a full plan if they want to scrap our plan or if they think our one is not working.
I would like to clarify some of the factual inaccuracies we heard earlier this week and discuss the homeless, about whom the Government is concerned. We are doing our best to deliver Rebuilding Ireland. I did not get a chance to say on Tuesday night that we accept that there are far too many people in an emergency situation without a house. There is no denying that. We publish the figures. We do not hide behind them. We do the rough sleepers count and so on and we put the truth out there. It would be easier to hide from homelessness but we do not do so. No one denies that the figures are far too high. In some cases, we cannot intervene quickly enough, which is a great shame because it means some families and children are left in emergency accommodation, which is not ideal for anybody. None of us would like that. We are not trying to claim everything is rosy in the garden or that there are no issues. As of today, more than 1,700 families need homes. The quicker we can address that, the better. I cannot be any clearer.
At the core of Rebuilding Ireland is the objective of accelerating the delivery of social, affordable and private housing, while also supporting families and individuals who are currently experiencing homelessness or who may be at risk of homelessness in the future. What is different now compared with three, four or five years ago is that we are able to intervene much quicker and families are asking for help much quicker. In 2014, 2015 and 2016, some families did not know they could come forward and get help, for example, in negotiating with the banks or dealing with their landlords. The position has changed and families now notify us much earlier if there is a problem and we can sometimes intervene to prevent problems arising in the first place. That did not happen in 2013, 2014 and 2015 because the State was not equipped or ready for it, if the truth be known, and funding was not available either. People became homeless quickly in those years. We may have been able to prevent homelessness in many cases if we had been able to step in at an earlier stage but, thankfully, we do that now and it is making a difference with regard to some of the numbers.
We have been working tirelessly to rebuild sufficient capacity in the housing market. As 2019 draws to a close, it is an opportune time to outline the progress that has been made and to inform the House of some future areas of priority action. Addressing homelessness continues to be a key priority for the Government and the Department in particular. To say that is not the case is crazy. Why would it not be a key Government priority? No sane person, on any side of the House, would want anybody to be in homelessness. Deputies should stop telling me the Government is ideologically opposed to helping or to finding solutions. We are not and no sane person would be. Of course we want to help. The Government wants to do all it can on this issue. It is our number one priority and it is silly give the impression that it is not.
We are working closely with local authorities and our NGO service delivery partners to deliver solutions for those individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Many of the NGOs, which have much to contribute, work closely with the Department and the local authorities in providing housing solutions and services. They do a good job and I accept that they also have a role as advocates.
A lot of them are working with us and I compliment their work alongside our local authorities and housing bodies. There was an impression given in some of the speeches here on Tuesday that local authorities are not responsible for housing and that we are trying to move away and make it all about housing bodies. I have gone to all the local council chambers and made it very clear that it is not the case. Local authorities are front and centre to this. I compliment the difference they have made over the last two years when they have been given the chance to do this. They have come a long way to reach their targets and to drive a new pipeline of projects. Naturally there is always pressure on them to do more and we will constantly ask them to do more but compared to where we were three years ago, when there was probably less than a couple of hundred social houses, now it is up at over 10,000 this year by a combination of all the different schemes as well. Local authorities are driving that. If any housing body wants to bring a housing project forward it is in conjunction with a local authority. It is either with one or under its instruction, and is also linked back to our Department. It is not a case that housing bodies are leading the way. Local authorities are in charge. I want to be clear on that. Nobody on our side has any doubts about that but there is a lot of confusion being spread about it on the other side.
While we are unfortunately seeing more individuals in emergency accommodation, it is worth noting that between October 2015 and October 2016, the number of individuals in emergency accommodation increased by 34%. The reason I give that figure is to try to show that a couple of years ago the figures were going up by 30%, 40% or 50% a year. We do not see that now. They are still far too high and we have had a couple of months where the number of people in emergency accommodation has gone up. That is really disappointing. However, the figure is not jumping in the way it was jumping by 30% or 40% in a year. That means we are beginning to make the right progress and the trends are going the right way. It is not quick enough but we have to stop the acceleration first and then try to bring it back down and eventually end it. The increase was 30%, 40% or 50% in some years. I think even at one stage the number of children in emergency accommodation went up by 54% in one year. Thankfully last year it was 1%. That is still not enough but it is a major point of progress that we are trying to build on as quickly as we possibly can.
The quarterly performance reports published by the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, show that more adults, families and their children are moving from homelessness to a home and the rate of exit is increasing. In the first nine months of this year, 4,389 adults along with their children left homelessness and moved to a home. The figure is 17% higher than for the first nine months of 2018. I am not saying it is enough but it is a big difference on last year, which was a big difference on the year before. If we keep going with those trends we will eventually get on top of this. That is what we are trying to do here. In Dublin, where 75% of families experiencing homelessness are located, 786 families moved from emergency accommodation to a home in the first nine months of this year, which is a 50% increase on the same period of 2018. I repeat, in case there are any doubts, that I am not saying this is enough but it is a big difference. If we can continue to do that and repeat it again in the next 12 months, we will go a long way to solving this. Nearly half the families presenting to homelessness services in the Dublin region were found a home without ever having to enter emergency accommodation. I made that point recently in debate. Four or five years ago, if 20 families became homeless, more than likely all 20 of them would enter emergency accommodation and would be there for a long time. That is what was happening. If 20 families present today, for ten of them we are immediately finding a solution and a home. That is a positive. Sadly, the other ten will still go into emergency accommodation but only for a number of months whereas a couple of years ago it could have been two or three years. That has all changed. Any time spent in emergency accommodation is too long; I want to be clear on that. However, it has come down a lot which means we are beginning to be able to react and find people a home much quicker, which is a positive development. We need to keep doing that and more of it. We can do that because the supply of housing has increased. That is key. Behind all this is the need to have a supply of housing, social, private and affordable. Over the last three years, over 12,000 adults have left emergency accommodation with their children. This year it will be over 5,000 and next year it will be the same again with the money allocated. That is an important part. People in emergency accommodation need to realise and have a little bit of hope that there is a way out of this and it is not going to go on forever. Thankfully the majority of people who are in emergency accommodation will be out in the next couple of months. The difficulty and the sad part is that every week the presentations are just as high again. That is the difficult part here. The rent controls and changes that were brought in in May and June of this year will make a difference and help reduce the number of people presenting. When we analyse the data on those who are coming forward, it is roughly 50-50 whereby half are due to economic, rent or finance issues and the other half has to do with social issues and so on. We have to intervene in different ways for both. Those rent changes should help with one category.
When it comes to rough sleepers, no person should ever have to sleep rough. This has been a key priority of the Government and it is why over 350 new emergency beds were added this year in the Dublin region to the other 800 emergency beds that were put in place as Rebuilding Ireland was published. Last week, an official winter rough sleeper count was carried out and a total of 92 persons were confirmed as sleeping rough across the Dublin region that night. There were plenty of spare emergency beds in the region that night and shelter was available to any person who wished it. There is no lack of capacity to offer somebody an emergency bed who is sleeping rough. For different reasons people end up sleeping rough and we have to intervene every which way we can. The most important part is that there is an emergency bed for them which, again, is very temporary. They can then progress through the system to a more permanent bed. The services are there. There are new people running that service in the streets of Dublin and they are out every night trying to engage with people and encourage them to come in. There is capacity now and rightly so. That capacity is in every other county throughout the country as well. At the summits and meetings every week, we ask local authorities how quickly they are able to move people through the system and so on. We get the feedback and know that in most cases people are in emergency accommodation for quite a short period in most counties. In Dublin, Cork and Galway there is a little bit more pressure but in the majority of cases they are able to intervene quite quickly because they use all the different schemes.
People kept saying to us last week that we should not have the housing assistance payment, HAP. If they do not want HAP, that is fine. I will accept they do not like it, on the condition that they tell me where they would house 48,000 families that are using the HAP scheme today. We all know it is not the most perfect scheme long term.