I propose to take Questions Nos. 39, 46 and 47 together.
I thank the Deputies. The programme for Government, Our Shared Future, commits to reducing and preventing homelessness and provides detail on how the Government will approach it as a priority. This year, we are seeing a reduction in the numbers of people in emergency accommodation. That is to be welcomed. Deputy Murphy's assertion that homelessness figures are rising is incorrect. The statistics do not bear that out. We have seen a slight increase in the homelessness rate among single adults. We are watching that but what I must watch, in particular, is the number of people who have been homeless for a sustained period. One of the issues that arises is the lack of availability of properties appropriate for single people. That is why I issued, in early July, the call for housing, which involved asking each local authority, through the Housing Agency, to acquire properties, particularly focusing on those experiencing long-term homelessness. I refer not just to single people, who are a concern, but also to larger families. I apologise to colleagues who attended the meeting of the housing committee earlier if I am repeating myself because we went into this in a little detail. Approximately 50 larger families have been homeless for four years because the requisite, appropriate properties have not been available to them. I have again asked through the Housing Agency that we source such properties as a matter of priority to focus our efforts on those who have experienced long-term homelessness. We also need to ensure that we prevent people from going into homelessness. We need to ensure, therefore, a sustainable supply of public properties. We must also ensure that people do not fall into homelessness itself.
I thank the local authorities, the delivery partners and the Department for all their work this year on sourcing homes and dealing with the threat of Covid-19. Significant numbers of individuals and families are exiting homelessness every week. On 25 September, I published the monthly homelessness report for August. It showed that a total of 8,702 individuals were in emergency accommodation, representing a decrease of 26 on the figure from the July report. Indeed, the figures from August 2020 represent a decrease of 1,636 individuals, down 16% on the 10,338 recorded at the same point in 2019. The August report also confirmed the lowest number of families reported in emergency accommodation since June 2016 and the lowest number of dependants recorded since February 2017. That is not to trumpet a success because I will not be happy until the homelessness figures are driven down to the bare minimum.
My Department also published details on the number of adults exiting homelessness to a tenancy on a quarterly basis. Based on the information provided in the performance reports from the local authorities, the report for quarter 2 showed that, in the first half of this year, 3,033 adults exited homelessness into a tenancy. This represented a 7% increase on exits over the same period in 2019. There are, however, still too many households in emergency accommodation, many of whom I have visited since taking over as Minister. I am committed to addressing this.
One of the key measures we are implementing to resolve this crisis involves increasing the supply of housing. To this end, the programme for Government commits to the increased supply of public, social and affordable homes. In particular, we will increase the social housing stock by more than 50,000, with an emphasis on new builds. In the short term, as part of the July stimulus I considered how we could use our existing properties better and get them back into use. I refer to the void stimulus, the objective being to have 2,500 homes back in use this year. A sizeable proportion of them will be for the homeless, which is to be welcomed.
The programme for Government also recognises that many of those experiencing homelessness have additional support needs, which we have discussed this evening, and it includes specific measures to address these needs. These include measures to help rough sleepers to enter sustainable accommodation, the continued expansion of Housing First, to which we are committed, with the focus on construction and acquisition of one-bedroom homes and, importantly, ensuring there are dedicated resources and funding to deliver the necessary health and mental health supports required to assist homeless people with complex needs. I am working closely with my colleague, the Minister for Health, to make progress on the measures to be taken to enhance the health supports provided to homeless households, with a particular focus on Covid in the short term.