More hubs for homeless families and greater supports for older homeless people, including end-of-life care, are planned as homelessness is projected to keep increasing in Dublin for at least another three years.
An unpublished action plan on homelessness, seen by The Irish Times, warns the “inadequate” provision of social and affordable housing means the scale of homelessness in the Dublin region will continue to grow, and while housing services would prefer to offer housing to homeless people, they will for the coming three years “be faced with the ongoing priority of providing emergency accommodation to the presenting homeless”.
The Homeless Action Plan Framework for Dublin, 2019 to 2021, drawn up by Dublin City Council , says “housing supply and affordability are the serious impediments to economic growth” and the affordability and availability of private rented accommodation “remains problematic” .
Any new housing has been targeted at wealthier buyers instead of households on average incomes, it adds.
The final draft of the action plan, dated March 7th, 2019, has been distributed to the housing committees of Dublin’s four local authorities for proposed adoption.
A total of €142 million was spent on homeless services in the capital last year – up from €66 million in 2016, the plan records, while the amount of emergency accommodation increased “to meet rising demand”. In the two years since March 2016, “the immense human challenge of homelessness” has increased 60 per cent, from 4,300 adults and children to 6,887.
The most recent figures, for January, show there were 6,964 people in homeless accommodation in Dublin, including 2,706 children.
And while in 2014 an average of 34 families a month presented as newly homeless, by 2017 this had risen to 81 and last year to 92 newly homeless families a month. Some 67 per cent were Irish-born, 12 per cent were EU citizens and 21 per cent were non-EU citizens.
The emerging homeless population is primarily made up of people under 40 years of age, the report notes, and single people without children account for 54 per cent of the adult homeless in Dublin.
“This presents a major challenge to the [Dublin Region Homeless Executive] because of the limited supply of one-bed units ... in both the private rented and social housing sectors.
“It is evident that the scale of homelessness in the Dublin region will continue to grow over the next period and ... will only reduce when the supply of social and affordable private rented accommodation has increased significantly.”
Among the plan’s actions are to “continue to expand the scale of the family hub type provision”; to enhance supports for older homeless people “who have high medical needs and who may require an end of life appropriate care” and to define a protocol setting out the rights of EU and non-EU migrants who are homeless.
Greater co-operation with the Department of Social Protection is planned, so the department will alert the Dublin Region Homeless Executive about any rent-supplement recipient in rent arrears so an income support worker can be offered if they are at risk of homelessness.
A significant proportion of the homeless population have addiction issues, it says. “There is a need to enable the provision of stabilisation beds within [emergency accommodation] where possible, which could enable access to treatment beds [and] there is a need for drug-free hostel beds”.