Deputies

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Progress on homelessness

Maureen O’Sullivan (ind, Dublin central) raised the issue of homelessness (Dail Eireann, Debates, 19th December 2012, 609-612).  There were 87 people sleeping out in Dublin and the sad death of a homeless person in Wicklow.  In particular, she drew attention to the work of Brother Kevin at the Capuchin Day Centre and questioned why he should have to pay water and waste charges.

 

Responding for the government, the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Jan O’Sullivan told her that it was never acceptable to have people sleeping on the streets.  At this time of year, we seemed to recognize a problem that endured throughout the year, every year.  The stubbornly high number of rough sleepers in Dublin reflected the gravity of the challenge and the government was investing €50m in homeless services in 2012.  Unfortunately, housing authorities consistently reported a small number of entrenched rough sleepers who were unwilling to avail of any accommodation and it was a group that was difficult to engage because of mental health issues and aggressive behaviour.  Outreach teams would continue to provide solutions for this group.  Progress had been made on homelessness but unfortunately it was not enough.  She paid tribute to the work of the Capuchins, Simon, Focus Ireland and the other voluntary bodies that did tremendous work.  Separately, she told Willie Penrose (ind, Longford – Westmeath) that the review of the homeless strategy The way home – a strategy to address adult homelessness in Ireland 2008-2013 was almost complete and she intended to issue a policy statement shortly (Dail Eireann, Debates, 11th December 2012, 299).  It would take account of demands on existing housing, assess how best to continue to provide services and ensure more effective preventative strategies.  She would indicate what she expected from housing authorities and other stakeholders in accelerating progress toward eliminating long-term homelessness.