A CORK TD has called on the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien to extend the ban on evictions and to increase the Housing First targets for 2021 in a bid to drive down homelessness.
In October 2020, an eviction ban was introduced for any period when people’s movement is restricted to 5 kilometres from their home as part of Covid-restrictions.
Housing First provides homeless people with high support needs with housing and the wraparound supports required to maintain a tenancy.
Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said: “At the Oireachtas Housing Committee [on Friday] morning, attended by Professor Eoin O’Sullivan, Professor of Social Policy at TCD, who has published extensively on homelessness, Dr Una Burns from Novas, the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and Alice Leahy, there was broad agreement that the best way to protect people from homelessness is to extend the ban on evictions through 2021 and to increase the number of Housing First tenancies.
“The witnesses were also clear that expanding Housing First is the way to reduce the number of deaths of people accessing homeless services,” Deputy Ó Laoghaire said.
His comments come in the wake of the publication of the Monthly Homeless Report for December 2020 and the Homeless Quarterly Progress Report for the fourth quarter of 2020.
The quarterly progress report is prepared by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, based on reports submitted by the nine regional lead authorities responsible for the administration of homeless services at a local level.
The number of individuals presenting to homeless services and the number of people accessing emergency accommodation reduced considerably in 2020.
At the end of 2020, there were 8,200 individuals accessing emergency accommodation, a decrease of almost 16% on the total number recorded at end of 2019.
The decrease in family homelessness was more pronounced.
The year-on-year position is that December 2020 showed a decrease of 578 families, just over 37%, on the 1,548 total recorded in December 2019.
This represents the lowest number of families in emergency accommodation since March 2016.
In Cork, the Monthly Homeless Report for December 2020 showed a decrease in the number of adults accessing emergency accommodation in December.
The report showed that 385 adults in Cork were accessing local authority managed emergency accommodation during the week of December 23-29.
This is a decrease of eight people compared to the November report which showed that 393 adults in Cork were accessing this type of emergency accommodation during the week of November 23-29 last year.
Dublin had the highest number of adults accessing emergency accommodation in December at 4,158 followed by Cork which had the second-highest figure.
Galway had the third-highest number of adults accessing emergency accommodation, at 209.
Nationally, 5,873 adults accessed emergency accommodation during the week of December 23-29.
This is a decrease of 159 people compared to the Homelessness Report for November 2020.
In December there were a total of 970 families without a home in the country compared to 1,034 in November.
Commenting on the latest reports, Minister O’Brien said that while homelessness remains “unacceptably high”, the figures are moving in the right direction, despite the added challenges dealing with Covid-19.
“We must all continue to work together. The Programme for Government commits to reducing and preventing homelessness and since becoming Minister I have set about securing significant additional resources in this regard,” he said.