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Housing First services to be rolled out in Wicklow, Meath and Kildare for the first time

Kildare County Council issued the tender worth an estimated €702,000.

File photo
File photo
Image: Leon Farrell via RollingNews.ie

A NEW CONTRACT has been put out to tender to provide Housing First services in Kildare, Meath and Wicklow for the first time. 

Kildare County Council issued the tender on Sunday, which is worth an estimated €702,000 for Housing First services over a three-year period.

The towns of Newbridge in Kildare, Navan in Meath and Bray in Wicklow have been identified as the towns around which the Housing First service will focus due to the existing availability of services in these areas.

Housing First primarily caters for adults, and has already housed people who would have been seen as the most entrenched, long standing rough sleepers – those who may have been on the streets for years and completely lost touch with the system.

Latest figures show that there were 6,584 adults and 3,794 children – 10,378 people – recorded in state-funded emergency accommodation in April. 

While the number of children in emergency accommodation fell by 27 when compared with the previous month, the overall number of people increased by 73 over the same period.

Housing First in Ireland

Supply remains a constant thorn in the side of initiatives like Housing First as the lack of it in the capital is driving the price of rent up, and putting more and more at risk of homelessness.

This programme was the first in Ireland through which homeless people are given a home first of all, with round-the-clock services then provided to them. 

Following the successful pilot demonstration project in Dublin a larger project was set up. This project was delivered by Peter McVerry Trust in partnership with Focus Ireland, on behalf of the DRHE and Dublin local authorities. This project ran from late 2014 until summer 2018. 

In November, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) issued a tender worth €16.4 million for Housing First. 

Last September saw the launch of the Housing First National Implementation Plan 2018-2021, which aims to expand the programme across the country. 

The plan was widely welcomed by housing and homeless charities across the country. 

It aims to achieve a number of different things: 

  • Provide a total of 663 permanent, secure tenancies across 31 local authorities for people with a history of rough sleeping or long-term use of emergency accommodation with complex needs. 
  • Provide the vast majority of Housing First tenants with permanent social housing, allocated by local authorities. 
  • Ensure that complex needs around mental health, alcohol and drug addiction will be addressed with up to daily support visits delivered by housing and health support teams. 

Over the plan’s three-year period, the government aims for the implementation of 31 Housing First tenancies in Kildare County Council, 22 tenancies in Meath County Council and 11 tenancies in Wicklow County Council, alongside targets for the rest of the country, too. 

Figures from Kildare County Council show that there will be eight tenancies provided this year in the local authority, with 12 expected next year and 11 more in 2021.

Meanwhile, Meath County Council will see six tenancies this year, with 8 each in 2020 and 2021, while Wicklow County Council will see three tenancies this year, five tenancies next year, and a further three tenancies in 2021.

Kildare County Council is working with the HSE and the Department of Housing to roll out the programme. 

The tender outlines that the contract term may be extended for a period or periods of up to 12 months, depending on satisfactory annual review of performance and delivery of targets, government funding and/or changing priorities within the range of homeless service provision in line with revised national homeless strategy and Mid-East Region Homeless Action Plan.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, the Department of Housing said Housing First is being delivered on a regional basis and “each of the regions either have a contract in place for the delivery of Housing First or are preparing tenders for the delivery of the necessary housing and health supports”. 

Last OctoberTheJournal.ie asked National Director of Housing First Bob Jordan whether he thinks Housing First in Ireland will make a significant change to the level of homelessness the country is currently experiencing. 

“While we’re dealing with a narrow group of people here, the guts of 750 people to begin with, they are people with quite deep issues around addiction and mental health,” he said. 

If we can resolve it for the hardest person, then it’s pretty clear that we can create a system that works for everybody.
With reporting by Seán Murray and Cormac Fitzgerald 

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