Homelessness: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

The following motion was moved by Deputy Thomas P. Broughan on Tuesday, 14 February 2019:
That Dáil Éireann:
notes that the homeless figures continue to rise month on month and, at the end of October 2018, there were 9,724 people and 3,725 children in homeless accommodation according to the statistics provided by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government;
further notes that:
— at least 1,600 people were removed and recategorised from these homeless figures;
— people and children in domestic violence refuges and direct provision accommodation are not included in these figures;
— people and children living in unsuitable, overcrowded accommodation and ‘couch surfing’ are also not included in these figures;
— some children are spending their second and third Christmases in emergency accommodation;
— the most recent rough sleeper count was 156, up from 110 in the spring count;
— over 10,000 attended the rally on 1st December, #HomesForAll, which was also the fourth anniversary of the death of Jonathan Corrie;
— over 14,000 people signed the recent Barnardos Ireland petition to call for an end to the use of bed and breakfasts and hotels to house homeless children; and
— public opinion is ahead of the political will to end the crisis, and the majority of the public believe that housing is a human right which should be enshrined in the Constitution, according to a recent Amárach poll published on the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10th December; and
calls on the Government to:
— immediately declare a housing emergency and implement the necessary emergency measures to urgently address the crisis;
— hold a referendum on the right to housing in May 2019;
— commit to re-housing families who have been in emergency homeless accommodation, including hubs, for 18 months or more, no later than by the end of quarter 1, 2019;
— commit to re-housing all other families experiencing homelessness by the end of quarter 2, 2019;
— limit the use of hubs and emergency accommodation for families with children to three months maximum;
— increase supports to schools in areas with large populations of homeless families;
— provide free counselling to all families and children experiencing homelessness should they wish to avail of the service;
— increase the number of available emergency beds and single rooms in dry hostels; and
— extend the Housing First programme by doubling all targets in the Housing First National Implementation Plan 2018-2021.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:
“acknowledges that:
— the Government recognised the urgency of the housing crisis over two years ago and introduced the Rebuilding Ireland - Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, providing a comprehensive framework for addressing the range of complex issues needing to be addressed across the housing sector;
— the Rebuilding Ireland - Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness is underpinned by over €6 billion in funding to support the delivery of 50,000 new social housing homes and 87,000 other housing supports over the six years 2016 to 2021;
— very significant progress has been made from 2016 to the end of 2018, in partnership with local authorities, Approved Housing Bodies and a range of other delivery partners, with over 72,000 individuals and families having their housing needs met during those three years, over 27,000 of which were supported in 2018 alone, and a further 27,300 households are expected to be supported this year, and this will bring to almost 100,000 the total number of households who will have been assisted under Rebuilding Ireland by the end of 2019;
— the level of progress being made is reflected in social housing waiting lists, which have reduced by 22 per cent, from 91,600 households to 71,858, between 2016 and 2018;
— to date, Rebuilding Ireland has increased the active social housing stock by over 21,200 homes, with some 8,420 of these being delivered in 2018;
— in 2018, over 18,000 new homes were built, a 25 per cent increase on the previous year and the highest number of newly built homes any year this decade, and in addition, more than 2,500 homes were brought out of long-term vacancy, with almost 800 dwellings in unfinished housing developments completed, meaning the number of new homes available for use increased by almost 21,500 in 2018, which does not include the 3,742 bed spaces completed in the student sector in 2018;
— the Government is committed to supporting those single persons, families and their dependents who are experiencing homelessness, and Budget 2019 reflects this commitment, with an increase of 25 per cent in the current spending budget for the provision of homeless services (bringing the total to €146 million for this year);
— the most recent published statistics show there were 9,753 persons in emergency accommodation in the month of December 2018, comprised of 6,194 adults and 3,559 associated dependants, and this represents a reduction of 215 people nationally on the numbers recorded in November;
— in December 2018, there were 111 fewer families and 252 fewer dependants in emergency accommodation than was the case in November, and that for the fifth consecutive month there was a reduction recorded in the number of families presenting to homeless services in the Dublin region;
— 111 families exited emergency accommodation into new homes in Dublin in December 2018, while 72 per cent of families in emergency accommodation in the Dublin region at the end of December had been homeless for less than one year, and through service level agreements with service providers, local authorities are working towards ensuring that exits from homelessness are achieved within six months of entering emergency accommodation;
— while the most recent count of rough sleepers in the Dublin region showed that 156 individuals were recorded sleeping rough, which was an increase on the numbers recorded in March 2018, there was a decrease of 28 on the number of persons recorded as sleeping rough during the equivalent winter count in 2017;
— the number of beds in use for single adults has risen from 2,000 beds at the end of 2017 to 2,300 beds in the Dublin region at the end of 2018, and all of these beds are supported temporary accommodation where single individuals and couples receive the accommodation and health supports that they need, with those presenting as homeless being matched to the best available accommodation, according to their needs, and emergency accommodation capacity fluctuates and is dictated by demand, with extra contingency beds being put in place during periods of adverse weather;
— increased outreach and prevention measures are working and will continue to be supported by the Government, including through the Homeless Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Placefinder Service, and 19 HAP Placefinders are now in place and to the end of quarter 3 2018, in excess of 5,300 households have been supported through Homeless HAP nationally, 4,350 of whom were in the Dublin region;
— the Government will continue to provide more suitable temporary accommodation to homeless families, increasing the number of family hubs to 26 at the end of 2018, with a total capacity for over 600 families, and with further hubs spaces to be added in 2019, as hubs provide a greater level of stability than is possible in hotel accommodation, with the capacity to provide appropriate play-space, cooking and laundry facilities, communal recreation space, while move-on options to long-term independent living are identified and secured;
— the most recently available performance reports show 3,752 adults exiting homelessness into independent tenancies in the nine-month period between January and September 2018, and this represents an increase of 431 (13 per cent) on the 3,321 exits recorded over the same period in 2017;
— an error was discovered in 2018, whereby households who were not in emergency accommodation had been counted in the emergency accommodation numbers, and this error was rectified and reports on the matter were published; and
— extensive supports are also provided to families experiencing homelessness by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, and the Child and Family Agency, Tusla, and supports include:
— a special provision under the existing Community Childcare Subvention Programme of free childcare for children from homeless families;
— Tusla’s School Completion Programme, which places an emphasis on children from homeless families;
— Home School Community Liaison Scheme co-ordinators proactively engaging with parents from homeless families to provide supports and assistance where required; and
— children in homeless accommodation being prioritised within the School Completion Programme for services such as breakfast and homework clubs; and
further acknowledges that:
— Housing First is delivering permanent housing solutions for rough sleepers and long-term users of emergency accommodation, and by the end of 2018, the Dublin Region Housing First Service had created Housing First tenancies for 243 unique individuals, of whom 86 per cent have successfully retained their homes, and the Housing First National Implementation Plan 2018-2021 contains targets for each local authority, with an overall national target of an additional 663 tenancies to be delivered by 2021;
— a high-level Homelessness Inter-Agency Group has been established, with representation from the Department of Justice and Equality, the Department of Health, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, the Department of Education and Skills, local authorities, Tusla and the Health Service Executive, and a report from this Group was submitted to Cabinet in June 2018, and a range of recommendations are now being implemented, including better co-ordination of responses, particularly in the areas of health, justice and family homelessness;
— the provision of accommodation to those in the international protection process and the provision of domestic violence refuges, and reporting on progress in these areas, will continue to be prioritised by the Minister for Justice and Equality and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs/Tusla, respectively; and
— the Eighth Report of the Convention on the Constitution recommended that the State should progressively realise economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to housing, subject to maximum available resources, by inserting such a right into the Constitution of Ireland, and the Convention’s recommendation raises substantial questions, including for example, the suitability or otherwise of the Constitution of Ireland as a vehicle for providing for detailed rights in this area, the possible cost, and the fact that there is already power by legislation to confer rights and determine expenditure via primary and secondary legislation and an elected and accountable Government and Oireachtas, and for these reasons the issue of the right to housing was referred, for further consideration, to the appropriate Oireachtas Committee, the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach, in October 2017."
-(Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government)

I must now deal with a postponed division relating to the motion regarding homelessness. On Tuesday, 14 February 2019, on the question that the amendment to the motion be agreed to, a division was claimed and in accordance with Standing Order 70(2), that division must be taken now.

Amendment again put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 43; Níl, 71; Staon, 0.

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Zappone, Katherine.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Lahart, John.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Seán Kyne and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Thomas P. Broughan and Joan Collins.
Amendment declared lost.
Motion put and declared carried.