Rebuilding Ireland, the Government’s Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, is designed to increase the delivery of housing across all tenures to help individuals and families meet their housing needs and address homelessness. The plan focuses on increasing the delivery of social housing, with a target of delivering 50,000 social housing homes in the period to 2021, while also making the best use of existing stock and laying the foundations for a more vibrant housing sector.
Supporting families experiencing homelessness is an absolute priority for the Government and for my Department in particular. In 2019, the Government increased the budget available to local authorities to deliver homeless services by over 25% to €146m. This funding supports the delivery of services to prevent families having to enter emergency accommodation and to ensure that those families in emergency accommodation are supported to identify and secure an independent tenancy within the shortest possible timeframe. In 2018, the HAP Placefinder service was made available to all local authorities to support households experiencing homelessness to identify and secure a tenancy in the private rented sector. My Department has approved funding for 23 Placefinder officers nationally.
The Government is also supporting local authorities to develop family hubs, through the provision of capital and operational funding. Family hubs provide a more secure and stable placement for families than is possible in hotels and B&B's. Under the service level agreements in place with the operators of the family hubs, targets are in place for the operators to secure a tenancy for each family within a six-month period. In some cases, it is not possible to achieve a tenancy within this period, including because of the housing requirements or preferences of an individual family. While I have no immediate plans to introduce a limit on the time that families spend in homeless services, I and my Department will continue working with local authorities to ensure that housing solutions are delivered within the shortest possible timeframe for all households in emergency accommodation.