Tuesday, 3 February 2004

Questions (45)

Thomas P. Broughan


166 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the recent concerns expressed by such organisations as Focus Ireland and the Simon Community regarding the increasing number of homeless persons; the steps being taken to deal with this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2857/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government)

I am aware of the concerns expressed by the voluntary bodies about this matter. The Government is committed to addressing the issue of homelessness on a sustained basis with the aim of eliminating the need for rough sleeping by the end of 2004 and of providing adequate emergency and move on accommodation and support services to enable homeless persons to achieve independent living as soon as possible within the resources available for the purpose. There has been substantial progress in achieving this aim since the publication of the Government's integrated and preventative strategies on homelessness. As part of the integrated strategy local authorities, together with health boards and other statutory and voluntary bodies, are required to draw up local action plans to tackle homelessness. Virtually all of these plans have now been adopted by local authorities and health boards and work is well under way on implementing the measures contained in them.

A wide range of additional accommodation, ranging from emergency accommodation to long-term sheltered accommodation, has been provided. This has enabled rough sleepers to access emergency accommodation and allowed homeless persons to move out of emergency accommodation and into accommodation more suitable to their needs. Increased levels of day care facilities as well as specific provisions to meet the needs of people with addiction problems or who are sleeping rough, as well as homeless offenders, have been put in place. Further facilities will be provided as part of the full implementation of the homeless action plans with particular emphasis on the provision of move on accommodation to minimise the long-term use of both emergency and bed and breakfast accommodation.

Substantial additional funding has been made available to support the implementation of the homeless strategies. Capital funding for the direct provision by local authorities of accommodation for homeless persons is being doubled from €25.4 million to €50.8 million over the period 2001 to 2005. Current funding for accommodation related homeless services by local authorities has increased substantially from €12.6 million in 2000 to €50 million in 2003. Funding continues to be made available to the voluntary sector for the provision of accommodation for homeless persons under the Department's capital assistance scheme.

With a view to ensuring that progress is made, the cross-Department team on homelessness continues to monitor the implementation of the homeless strategies and a review of the strategies will be initiated shortly.

Question No. 167 answered with QuestionNo. 160.