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 the local level.
My Department publishes a detailed monthly report on homelessness, based on data provided by housing authorities. The Report outlines details of individuals utilising State-funded emergency accommodation arrangements that are overseen by housing authorities. The Reports are available on my Department's website at the following link: http://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/homelessness/other/homelessness-data.
While my Department does not collate the data requested by the Deputy I am acutely aware of the tragic deaths in recent days and months of individuals who have been accessing homeless services. I offer my sincere condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives. While every situation is unique, at an overall level, it is vital we continue to deliver the appropriate measures to ensure that all individuals experiencing homelessness are supported to exit homelessness into permanent housing solutions and that those with complex health and mental health needs are supported.
The latest quarterly report shows that 1,350 adults and their dependants exited homelessness into tenancies in the third quarter of 2020, with 1,485 having exited in quarter two. In the year to date, a total of 4,401 exits from homelessness have been achieved.
These quarterly exit figures can be viewed in the broader context of overall homeless numbers. The numbers accessing homeless accommodation have reduced considerably in recent times. At the end of quarter three 2020 there were 8,656 individuals accessing emergency accommodation, a reduction of 43 individuals on the previous quarter, and a decrease of 1,741 individuals (16.7%) on the 10,397 total recorded at end of quarter three 2019.
The Programme for Government commits to reducing and preventing homelessness and since becoming Minister I have secured significant additional resources. Budget 2021 makes provision for €218m in funding for homeless services next year. The original budget allocation for 2020 was €166m with a further €30m already secured in July of this year.
The increased funding will allow for a greater focus on preventing homelessness in the first instance while also ensuring that pathways out of homelessness for those individuals and families in emergency accommodation are secured as quickly as possible. This reflects the priority that I as Minister and this Government is rightly giving to homelessness.
For those experiencing homelessness the additional funding will support the provision of additional outreach services for rough sleepers and the expansion of Housing First targets, which is a commitment in the Programme for Government. Housing First provides homes for rough sleepers and long-term users of homeless accommodation and provides them with the wrap around housing and health supports that they require to sustain a tenancy.