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 and related services for homeless persons rests with individual housing authorities. In general, the operation of emergency accommodation facilities is contracted out by local authorities, under service level agreements, to NGOs involved in the delivery of homeless services. Accordingly, my Department does not examine, investigate or record complaints received in emergency accommodation facilities.
Supporting individuals and families experiencing homelessness is a priority for the Government. The Dublin Region Homeless Executive has developed a National Quality Standards Framework (NQSF) on behalf of my Department. The Framework has been developed to ensure a more consistent approach in how housing authorities and service providers respond to the needs of those experiencing homelessness.
The Framework focuses on person-centered services and contains specific provisions regarding complaints mechanisms for persons and families in emergency accommodation. These include that service users’ complaints and concerns are listened to and acted upon in a timely, supportive and effective manner. The Framework was implemented on a phased basis in the Dublin region, with site visits commencing in February. The experience gained from the completion of the rollout in the Dublin region and the commencement of site visits has allowed the DRHE to evaluate how the Framework should be implemented nationally and to advise my Department accordingly. Earlier this year, my Department wrote to housing authorities, advising them on the process for the implementation of the Framework, which is being undertaken on a nationwide basis over a 12-month period commencing on 1 July 2019.