Alan Kelly pledges 1,000 houses to homeless

Ministers orders at least 50% of social housing in Dublin to be given to ‘vulnerable’

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly: “Successfully tackling homelessness demands that a higher priority be afforded to homeless households.” Photograph: The Irish Times

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly: “Successfully tackling homelessness demands that a higher priority be afforded to homeless households.” Photograph: The Irish Times

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At least 1,000 local authority homes are to be allocated within the next six months to people who are homeless, have disabilities or are experiencing domestic violence in Dublin and other major urban centres.

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has issued an order that at least 50 per cent of social housing available in Dublin and 30 per cent in Galway, Cork, Limerick and Waterford be given to people who are homeless or “vulnerable” in recent days.

Last December, Mr Kelly announced a €25 million plan to tackle homelessness, following the death of homeless man Jonathan Corrie near Leinster House. The change in housing allocations in the four Dublin local authorities was one of 20 measures announced in the plan.

However, Mr Kelly has now decided to extend the measure to the city and county council areas of Galway, Cork, Limerick and Waterford, which have also been directed to prioritise homeless and vulnerable groups.

“Successfully tackling homelessness demands that a higher priority be afforded to homeless households. This needs to be translated into homeless households being allocated actual houses and not just numbers on a priority list,” Mr Kelly said.

Up to last year, about 10 per cent of social housing was allocated to homeless individuals or families in Dublin city and 4-6 per cent in the other three Dublin local authority areas. However outside Dublin those figures were considerably lower, ranging from zero to 7.5 per cent. In 2013, 8,820 housing allocations were made by housing authorities across the State and just 359 or 4.1 per cent of these allocations went to homeless households.

‘Unsuitable’ housing

Under the ministerial direction, the ringfenced percentage of homes must be allocated to households or individuals who are on a local authority’s housing waiting lists, but also fall into one of three categories of need. The first category applies to those who are homeless and have been living in an institution, or using emergency accommodation services or a hostel.

However the allocation has also been extended to individuals or households where a family member has an enduring physical, sensory, mental health or intellectual impairment. The third category applies to people with a current housing situation that is “unsuitable” on exceptional medical or compassionate grounds. These grounds have been defined for local authority housing managers to extend to households where there has been domestic violence, and to young people leaving State care.

“These ministerial directions should provide at least 500 homes for homeless households in the Dublin region and a similar amount for the other authorities combined. It should reduce the number of homeless persons including families in emergency accommodation,” Mr Kelly said.

The allocations apply up to July 26th only and each local authority has been directed to make arrangements for a “timely and efficient selection of households and offers of accommodation” to ensure households are notified and ready to move into dwellings as soon as they become available.

Each local authority will be monitored during the six month period to ensure they are making the appropriate allocations.

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