I launched Making it Home: An Action Plan on Homelessness in Dublin 2004-2006, in July 2004. The plan contains a number of actions to increase housing options for homeless persons. One of these actions is to increase the supply of local authority housing in the short term through the purchase or lease, from private owners, of existing self-contained accommodation suitable for single person households.
The provision of appropriate long-term accommodation, whether provided by local authorities, voluntary bodies or the private sector, is necessary to enable people move out of homelessness. In relation to the private rented sector, it is considered that the potential benefits of the approach being adopted in the new rental accommodation scheme, RAS, could be significant in terms of applying greater effectiveness in meeting the needs of homeless households. I understand that the Homeless Agency is examining the potential of this scheme in the context of drawing up a plan to increase housing options for homeless households.
In relation to purchasing private property, local authorities have been advised by my Department that they may purchase private second-hand houses where the cost of the acquisition can be met from the authority's capital allocation and the acquisition represents a cost-effective and economical means by which the authority can meet the housing needs of persons on their waiting lists. It is a matter for individual local authorities to decide on the circumstances and conditions under which they purchase houses, given their knowledge of local housing markets, including prices, which can vary substantially from one area to the next. The approval of the Department is not required for individual purchases.