Call for action on homelessness
Minister of State for Housing Jan O?Sullivan's department in 'complex negotiations' with Nama. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times
It would be possible to end homelessness by 2016, groups working with the homeless have said, though they warned resources must be targeted at the goal without delay.
In a broad welcome for the Government target to eliminate homelessness in time for the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising - announced this morning - housing and anti-poverty charities warned words must be followed “immediately” by action.
The Minister of State for Housing, Jan O’Sullivan, published a Homelessness Policy Statement which commits Government to prioritising the provision of long-term housing as early as possible, rather than putting homeless people through a process of short- and medium-term housing ’steps’.
She said her Department, as well as local authorities, had been in complex discussions with Nama, about the release of about 3,000 dwellings into the sector and that these discussions were beginning to bear fruit.
This re-orientation towards a ’housing led’ approach to homelessness follows review of the last Government’s ’The Way Home’ strategy by Professor Eoin O’Sullivan of the School of Social Policy at Trinity College, Dublin.He criticised how large amounts of money were being spent on homelessness services and argued for long-term rental housing “with support as needed” to provide “sustainable tenancies”.
The six core parts of of the Government’s new strategy will be: the prevention of homelessness, elimination of the need to sleep rough, elimination of long-term occupation of crisis shelters, the provision of long-term housing, ensuring services are effective, and, better co-ordinating funding arrangements.
Joyce Loughnan, chief executive of Focus Ireland said all in the sector had learned a lot from the failure to reach the 2010 target of ending homelessness and the 2016 one was “achievable.. if we apply those lessons”.
She warned however the “housing led” approach already underway had been “struggling due to the State not providing access to the required housing at affordable prices”.
Bob Jordan, director of Threshold, described the 2016 target as “ambitious” but said if the strategy [was] properly implemented and funded “we believe it can be achieved”.
Niamh Randall, national spokeswoman for the Simon Communities, said she hoped the Policy would re-energise and re-ignite the national homelessness strategy and reinvigorate all in the sector.
“But hope alone is not enough. We now need a detailed roadmap setting out clear milestones”.
“With up to 50 people turning to homeless services in Dublin alone each week there needs to be a very significant step up in the number of homes made available for people who are homeless if we are to cope with this level of demand, reduce the overall numbers of people who are long term homeless and meet this 2016 target”.