Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Questions (477, 480, 486)

Michael P. Kitt

Question:

477. Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans for dealing with the increased numbers of homeless persons, particularly in Dublin; the number of social housing units to be built this year in each county and each city borough; if he will indicate any other proposals he may have to provide extra housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5526/14]

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Dessie Ellis

Question:

480. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide a breakdown based on local authority area of all the emergency accommodation beds available for persons experiencing homelessness here, specifying those which are exclusively for use by a particular demographic. [5612/14]

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Dessie Ellis

Question:

486. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of persons that have reported as homeless for the first time across the State between the years 2011 and 2012. [5618/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 477, 480 and 486 together.

I expect that in the region of 5,000 new social housing units will be provided in 2014. These units will be delivered through a range of mechanisms including through continued investment in leasing and the Rental Accommodation Scheme, the completion of existing capital programmes and mortgage to rent arrangements and the continued transfer of NAMA units. A detailed breakdown by local authority area is not available.

In February 2013, I published the Government’s Homelessness Policy Statement in which the Government's aim to end long-term homelessness by the end of 2016 was outlined. The statement emphasises a housing-led approach which is about accessing permanent housing as the primary response to all forms of homelessness. The availability and supply of secure, affordable and adequate housing is essential in ensuring sustainable tenancies and ending long-term homelessness. When the statement was published, I announced a set of indicators to be used to demonstrate the dynamics of homelessness as it is addressed. These indicators will give a clearer picture of homelessness in Ireland and, in quantifying its on-going extent, will support the bringing forward of realistic and practical solutions. The Pathway Accommodation & Support System (PASS) was extended nationally in 2013 and is now operational nationwide. It will assist housing authorities to report on these indicators and 2014 will be the first year for which PASS will produce composite national data on homelessness. These reports will be published on my Department's website as soon as they are available.

The Homelessness Oversight Group, which I established in 2013 for the purposes of reviewing the progress of the approach being advocated in the statement, identifying obstacles and proposing solutions has submitted its first report to me. The report considered information on the homeless population, emergency and other accommodation as well as housing supply issues. I am considering this report and its recommendations and I will consult with my Government colleagues on the implementation of these recommendations, as appropriate. A copy of this report is available on my Department's website, www.environ.ie.

The specific information sought on emergency accommodation beds and on persons reporting as homeless for the first time is not available in my Department. Traditionally it has been difficult to quantify the number of homeless persons on an on-going basis; this is in part a consequence of the volatility within this cohort of housing need.

In advance of the composite national data on homelessness to be available through PASS, the most complete set of data available in relation to homelessness nationally is the Central Statistics Office’s special Census report, Homeless Persons in Ireland, which was published on 6 September 2012. This report indicated that a total of 64 individuals were sleeping rough on Census night, 10 April 2011, while identifying a further 3,744 people as housed in accommodation defined as emergency, transitional or long-term. Of the total of 3,808 individuals included in the report almost 60% were in long-term or transitional housing arrangements. This report is available on CSO's website, www.cso.ie.