Dáil Éireann - Volume 663 - 08 October, 2008

Written Answers. - Homeless Persons.

[211] Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on putting in place a committed multi-annual budget for homeless initiatives by local authorities in conjunction with his Department and thus allowing for the front loading of a large percentage of future years funding for the homeless initiative by local authorities in order that they can buy or build accommodation in the current market conditions and to reduce the number of those who are homeless and in need of emergency accommodation, and thus allow the reduction of the existing budget allocation towards the end of a given five year period. [34102/08]

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the measures he is taking to provide sufficient emergency accommodation with the onset of winter to ensure that the increasing number of homeless persons in towns and cities do not have to sleep rough. [34106/08]

  Deputy Michael Finneran: I propose to take Questions Nos. 314 and 317 together.

The Government’s new strategy The Way Home: A Strategy to address Adult Homelessness in Ireland 2008-2013 sets out a comprehensive framework within which the complex range of issues involved in meeting the Government’s objectives in relation to homelessness can be addressed. Since 2000, over €620 million has been provided for homeless services, between accommodation-related costs met through my Department and the local authorities, and care services funded through the Health Service Executive. In 2008 alone, almost €92 million in current funding is being provided. Further significant capital funding has also been provided for the development of new facilities.

Future funding of actions under the strategy will be a matter for consideration in the context of the annual Estimates process and it will also be essential to ensure that optimum efficiency and value for money are secured from funding provided. In that context, the Homeless Agency in Dublin has been undertaking a comprehensive review of services and a value for money review; when completed shortly, these will play an important role in informing the development of the strategy’s implementation plan and consideration of associated funding issues.

Central interlinked objectives of the new Government strategy are the elimination of the need to sleep rough and the long-term occupation of emergency homeless accommodation. Accordingly, while it is essential that there is adequate capacity in emergency accommodation to respond to underlying need, this should be achieved mainly through eliminating long-term occupation of existing emergency accommodation, rather than providing additional accommodation of this kind. Nevertheless, it is recognised that surges may arise in the demand for emergency accommodation from time to time. The situation in this regard is kept under review at local level, with appropriate responses, in certain cases through the adoption of specific winter strategies, being put in place as necessary.