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Housing; Local Government and Heritage | Homelessness prevention programmes

To ask the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage his proposals to address the issue of homelessness; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

The continuing increase in the numbers accessing emergency accommodation is a serious concern for me and for the Government. We are doing everything in our power to tackle this problem, both by increasing housing supply and investing in homelessness prevention.

The Government is investing significantly in social and affordable housing, with record funding allocated for current and capital investment in housing this year alone.

The Residential Tenancies (Deferment of Termination Dates of Certain Tenancies) Act 2022 was signed into law on 29 October 2022. The Act makes emergency provision to defer the termination dates of certain residential tenancies that fall, or would fall, during the period beginning on 30 October 2022 and ending on 31 March 2023 in order to mitigate the risk that persons whose tenancies would otherwise be terminated during that period would be unable to obtain alternative accommodation.

I have introduced further measures to increase supply, including the voids programme with an emphasis on quick turnaround and re-letting, the pilot expansion of the Repair and Leasing scheme and the reinstatement of the delegated sanction to local authorities for social housing acquisitions. I also want to make it abundantly clear that there are no impediments, from my Department’s point of view, to the acquisition of homes with HAP or RAS tenants in situ and I have strongly advised the Local Authorities to be proactive in this regard.

Local authorities are funded to provide tenancy sustainment and prevention services and I have tasked the National Homelessness Action Committee to make recommendations on new prevention measures. I have also increased the HAP discretion rate from the previous 20%, to a maximum of 35% for all local authority areas. Furthermore, I published the Youth Homeless Strategy 9 November that sets out 27 distinct actions to tackle youth homelessness.

Housing Supply is increasing under Housing for All. There is a strong pipeline, with 44,715 dwellings granted planning permission in the 12 months to the end of June 2022. 27,773 new homes were completed in the twelve months to end September 2022 – greater than the total for 2021 or any full year since the CSO completions series began. There were 26,608 units commenced in the year to October 2022 and we are on track to exceed the Housing for All target of 24,600 new build homes in 2022.

Record State investment of €4.5bn will be made available in 2023 to support the largest State home building programme ever, with 9,100 direct build social homes and 5,500 affordable homes.

This supply activity, as well as targeted measures specifically to prevent homelessness, will allow us to meet the challenge of reducing the unacceptable numbers currently in emergency accommodation and ultimately to eradicate homelessness.

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