The Government is committed to addressing the problem of homelessness. The need for a comprehensive response to homelessness was acknowledged in the establishment of the cross-Department team on homelessness whose remit includes health, education, employment as well as accommodation needs. The team's report and recommendations will be considered by the Government in the near future.
A special £5 million allocation over the two years 2000 and 2001 was made in the recent budget for the provision of two high support hostels for homeless people suffering from drug and alcohol addictions and is being made available to Dublin Corporation to build or acquire and redevelop suitable premises for these purposes. This allocation will supplement the £4 million allocation in the public capital programme for the provision by local authorities of hostel accommodation this year.
In addition, it is open to voluntary bodies to avail of funding under my Department's voluntary housing capital assistance and rental subsidy schemes to provide hostel and sheltered housing accommodation for homeless persons. The local authority housing programme which also provides housing accommodation for homeless persons is being expanded to provide 22,000 housing starts over the next four years.
A survey carried out by the Dublin Simon Community in conjunction with Dublin Corporation in June 1998 indicated that there were 208 people sleeping rough in the Dublin area. A further survey on behalf of the homeless initiative in March 1999 indicated that there were 275 people sleeping rough in the Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow area. Most of these were in the Dublin area.