Minister O’Brien informed colleagues of his intention to publish a new Housing First National Implementation Plan covering the period 2022 to 2026, to establish a new National Homeless Action Committee and to issue guidance on Local Authority Homelessness Action Plans.
The Minister said the recent increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness was a serious concern for the Government and that his Department were acting accordingly in progressing a number of measures which will help to prevent entries into homelessness in the first instance and to assist those currently experiencing homelessness to successfully exit into safe and secure tenancies.
The new Housing First National Implementation Plan, which is due to be published in December, will provide for over 1,200 tenancies over the next five years. Under the current plan 663 Housing First tenancies were due to be delivered to the end of 2021. This target has been surpassed and as of September 2021 695 tenancies had been delivered under Housing First.
A new National Homeless Action Committee is being set up to oversee implementation of inter-agency measures committed to under Housing for All, including accelerating the delivery of new supports. The committee – which will comprise of Government departments, State agencies and key stakeholders – will achieve greater coherence and coordination of homeless services. The committee will oversee the interagency actions outlined in Housing for All, and Minister O’Brien will chair the committee.
The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage is also drafting guidance that will require local authorities to have regard to Housing for All in drafting or amending their statutory Homelessness Action Plans. This requirement is aimed at ensuring greater coordination and alignment between actions locally and policy nationally. The drafting of the guidance is underway and will be issued before the end of the year.
Commenting after notifying Cabinet of the initiatives, Minister O’Brien said: “Yesterday I notified Government about a range of measures I am taking to tackle homelessness, key actions contained in Housing for All. Housing First is a vital response to ending long-term homelessness. It does this by providing those who are sleeping rough, and those who are long-term users of homeless accommodation, with their own permanent home whilst also addressing complex health and mental health needs. The current plan has been hugely successful, exceeding the targets set out in the plan with a high tenancy sustainment rate. I would like to thank our NGO partners who, with the support of Government, are implementing the Housing First initiative.
“The new National Homeless Action Committee which I am establishing and Chairing will bring together all the relevant support services, ensuring there is greater cooperation and coordination in tackling homelessness, while the new guidance on Homelessness Action Plans will make sure the key actions on homelessness, outlined in Housing for All, are at the forefront of how our local authorities design and deliver measures to prevent and reduce homelessness,” he concluded.