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Update on High Level Homelessness Taskforce meeting

The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD met today with members of the High Level Homelessness Taskforce as well as officials from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and officials from the Department of Health.

The Taskforce received an update as to the current position with regards to COVID-19 and the vaccination rollout among those experiencing homelessness, the recent signing of the European Declaration on Combatting Homelessness and the upcoming Housing for All plan.

Commenting following the meeting Minister O’Brien said:

“I am very grateful to the all of the members of the Taskforce whose efforts during the pandemic have never waned. It’s down to their hard work, and that of all our homeless service delivery partners, that the rates of infection have been well managed, relative to the wider population. Some 90% of long-term users of emergency accommodation have been vaccinated and I cannot thank the public health teams enough for their efforts in this regard.

“As we thankfully continue our progress through to the recovery phase of our response to the pandemic, there are certainly some positive lessons to be learned from the experience. There has been improved co-operation between homeless and health services which has been of benefit to service users. We want to continue with supports and good practices which have been put in place and this will certainly be a feature of our upcoming Housing for All plan.

“Having recently signed the European Declaration on Combatting Homelessness I am enthused at the fact that for the first time ever there is now a structure in place at European level to deal with homelessness. While the numbers of people experiencing homelessness, particularly child and family homelessness, has decreased in Ireland over the past year, the numbers are still far too high and a major concern to me. We are all focussed on taking firm action to prevent entries into homelessness in the first instance and to help those experiencing homelessness to exit into secure and sustained tenancies.  

“The submissions received from members of the Taskforce, as well as by various stakeholders in the NGO sector, in the preparation of Housing for All are central to our response in tackling and combatting homelessness. I am committed to using all the necessary resources to protect our most vulnerable.

“At the sharpest edges of our housing crisis are people experiencing homelessness, moving from one emergency accommodation to another or at worst rough sleeping on our city streets. Every action we take to alleviate the housing crisis, which is Government’s number one priority, will take us closer to our goal of eradicating homelessness,” he concluded.