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Emergency Homeless Accommodation

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 22 November 2011

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Questions (308, 309, 310)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

337 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the average cost for providing emergency homeless accommodation per person; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35813/11]

View answer

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

338 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the amount of money spent in providing emergency homeless accommodation between 2008 and 2010. [35814/11]

View answer

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

339 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of persons that received assistance and support with emergency homeless accommodation between 2008 and 2010. [35815/11]

View answer

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

I propose to take Questions Nos. 337 to 339, inclusive, together.

My Department's role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at local level. Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of accommodation for homeless persons rests with the housing authorities and the purposes for which housing authorities may incur expenditure in addressing homelessness are prescribed in Section 10 of the Housing Act 1988.

My Department does not fund any service directly but recoups the local authorities 90% of the cost of the service provided with an additional 10% coming from the local authorities own resources. Funding recouped by my Department to local authorities in each of the years from 2007 to 2010 and to date in 2011 for the provision of homeless accommodation and related services is as follows:

2008

2009

2010

To Oct 2011

€00053,235

€00056,057

€00054,703

€00031,003*

(*recoupment to date out of total 2011 Estimates provision of €53.413 million)

Up to 50 different organisations provide emergency services throughout the country. The Simon Communities, Focus Ireland, Novas, St. Vincent de Paul, the De Paul Trust, the Salvation Army and Crosscare, who have built up the services over the years, receive the bulk of the funding that goes to the voluntary sector providers. The HSE also provides funding to these organisations in respect of health and social care services for homeless persons.

Funding is used to support emergency, transitional and long term accommodation of homeless persons, as well as prevention, assessment, placement, outreach and day services. The throughput of persons — single instance and also repeat presentations to a variety of agencies — receiving assistance and support with emergency homeless accommodation is not collected nationally. My Department therefore does not have information on the number of persons or the average cost per person of providing emergency homeless accommodation and supports. I also refer to the reply to Question No. 414 of 15 November 2011 which sets out the Government's commitment to adopting a ‘housing led' approach to homelessness and to ensuring more effective prevention strategies.

In respect of counting numbers of people in homeless services, the Pathway Accommodation & Support System (PASS) is an accommodation management and inter-agency service user support system which is being developed in accordance with priority actions of the implementation plan set out under the national homeless strategy 2008-2013 The Way Home. The system commenced in January 2011 and is currently in use by almost all service providers of homeless accommodation and outreach supports in the Dublin region.

Work to ensure consistency of use and accurate information recording by the service providers, as well as the elimination of duplicate records, validation of data etc., has been completed in the Dublin region. Extension of the service nationally will now commence on a phased basis, and the first phase will consist of the South West and North East Regions comprising the County and City authorities of Cork, Kerry, Louth, Monaghan and Cavan. It is intended that the PASS system will be operational across the entire country by end 2012 providing that no unforeseen issues arise during the initial roll out phase.

The Counted In survey, which was a special purpose count of people using homeless services carried out in Dublin every three years since 1999 through the Homeless Agency, supported by my Department, was generally considered to provide the most robust indicator until the development of PASS. The results of the most recent Counted In survey, in March 2008, reported a total of 1,436 homeless households in Dublin. A further 708 households were recorded as residing in long-term or transitional accommodation. However, it would not be correct to regard all of these as homeless, particularly where, for example, households were resident in suitable accommodation that would be likely to provide their most appropriate home in the long-term, or where they had begun to make a transition out of homelessness.

The Counted In survey method was also used for the first time in Cork, Galway and Limerick in 2008. The results indicated a total of 767 households homeless in these centres. However, that figure includes households in long-term and transitional accommodation some of whom, as indicated in relation to Dublin, should not properly be regarded as homeless.

The PASS system will in future provide good quality, timely, data on homelessness nationally as an evidence base for all homeless services. PASS will determine the numbers in homeless services for the Dublin region in 2011 and pending roll out nationally ‘Counted In' in the traditional manner will take place later this month or early December in Cork, Limerick and Galway.

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