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National Head Office
+353 1 823 0776
9am – 5pm
Monday -Friday
Information and advice number for those in experiencing or at risk of homelessness
087 912 3989
9am – 5pm
Monday -Friday
Fundraising queries
+353 1 823 0776
9am – 5pm
Monday -Friday

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Housing
Housing First

Peter McVerry Trust is Ireland’s largest provider of Housing First services.

As an early adopter and major supporter of Housing First, Peter McVerry Trust has been working on the model since 2011 in Dublin.

Peter McVerry Trust continues to seek ways to expand and improve the delivery of Housing First in Ireland.

What is Housing First?

The Housing First model aims to provide a person sleeping rough, or someone who has been long-term homeless, with their own secure accommodation as well as access to intensive and specialised support services. Housing First is a participant-centred model that focuses on ending homelessness for people who have been homeless for many years or who are particularly vulnerable.

Housing First focuses on providing participants with housing as well as intensive case management through, Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) and Intensive Case Management (ICM).

Watch the video below to learn more about the Housing First model.

Among the key principles of the Housing First model are:

  • Housing as a basic human right
  • Warmth, respect, and compassion
  • Commitment to the participant
  • Scattered site housing
  • Separation of housing and services issues/requirements
  • Self-determination and choice
  • Recovery orientation
  • Harm reduction

Housing First participants will have ready, time-unlimited access to support and treatment services, for as long as the participant requires. Even if a tenancy fails, Housing First continues to support the individual to another tenancy and the support service continues to engage with the participant.

Does Housing First work?

Yes. It has been incredibly successful in helping people with complex needs to secure and sustain housing.

In the USA, where the Housing First model has been operating for the longest period, research shows that Housing First is particularly successful with long-term homeless individuals who have a history of mental health difficulties and drug/alcohol misuse.

Tenancy sustainment rates, the primary indicator for measuring the success of homeless housing policies, are much higher for Housing First initiatives than for treatment first initiatives, which further supports a shift towards the Housing First model.

  • In a four-year study in the USA, involving 255 homeless individuals, those participating in Housing First programmes had a tenancy sustainment rate of 75% whilst those engaging in treatment first programmes had a tenancy sustainment rate of 50%.
  • In New York, the Pathways to Housing organisation has housed over 600 people through the Housing First programme and has maintained a tenancy sustainment rate of 85%.
  • In Ireland, the joint Peter McVerry Trust Focus Ireland Housing First programme which ran from 2014-2019 had an 86.8% tenancy sustainment rate.

Watch the video below to hear Peter, who is a Housing First Tenant, speak about his new home.

Housing First in Ireland

A Housing First Demonstration Project ran in Dublin from April 2011 until September 2014. This project initially identified and targeted 23 long-term rough sleepers. This pilot project was a collaborative effort between the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE), Stepping Stone Accommodation, Peter McVerry Trust, Focus Ireland and Dublin Simon.

In 2013 in the Homelessness Policy Statement issued by the then Minister for Housing, Jan O’Sullivan TD, for the first time a firm and explicit commitment was made to delivering a Housing First response to homelessness in Ireland.

In late 2014, the DRHE awarded Focus Ireland and Peter McVerry Trust the contract to deliver in partnership the Housing First Regional Service in Dublin. This project was initially slated to run until 2017 with a target of 100 tenancies, however, it was extended by two years with an increased target of 300 tenancies. As of March 2019, the DRHE Housing First Regional Service, delivered in partnership by Focus Ireland and Peter McVerry Trust, had created over 300 tenancies with a tenancy sustainment rate of 86.8%, this project ended in early summer 2019.

National Roll Out

In September 2017, Peter McVerry Trust proposed the creation of the post of National Director of Housing First to the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, this was supported and in early 2018 the first National Director was appointed, Mr Bob Jordan. The purpose of the national director role was to drive a national implementation plan and a scaling up of Housing First across Ireland.

In September 2018, the National Housing First Implementation Plan was published by Minister Eoghan Murphy along with the Minister for Health, Simon Harris at one of Peter McVerry Trust’s social housing developments. This set out specific targets for each local authority to achieve by 2021. As a result, local authorities have now begun to increase their Housing First work.

In March 2019, Peter McVerry Trust was awarded the contract to deliver the Dublin Region Housing First Service on behalf of the DRHE and the four Dublin local authorities. This is the largest Housing First service in Ireland and follows on from our involvement in the previous contract which ran from 2014 -2019 in partnership with Focus Ireland.

It should be noted that Peter McVerry Trust and other homeless NGOs have been running and delivering their own self-funded Housing First work outside of State funds for the past number of years.

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Dr Sam Tsemberis, Founder of Housing First
Christopher, a Housing First tenant in Dublin
Barry, a Housing First tenant in Dublin

Peter McVerry Trust and Pathways Housing First Institute

In late 2017, Peter McVerry Trust signed an international partnership with the Pathways Housing First Institute. The organisation is headed up by Dr Sam Tsemberis, the founder of the Housing First movement.

The agreement will see Pathways Housing First offer accreditation, advice and monitoring to Peter McVerry Trust to validate our fidelity to the Housing First model.

In February 2018 Peter McVerry Trust announced plans to double its own self funded Housing First work, expanding delivery of the model outside of Dublin to include counties Kildare and Limerick. The programme will expand from 25 to 60 participants, with new small-scale interventions in counties Limerick and Kildare. These projects are delivered separate to the State/Local Authority funded schemes.

In April 2019 Peter McVerry Trust announced that it had extended its partnership with Dr Tsemberis and Pathways Housing First Institute  until 2022.

In the video below, our CEO Pat Doyle and Dr Sam Tsemberis discuss our work around improving our delivery of Housing First.

Contact Dublin’s Housing First team

Housing First Dublin,

C/O Peter McVerry Trust,

St Catherine’s Foyer,

Marrowbone Lane,

Dublin 8.

Tel: 1800 805 820

Email: dublinhousingfirst@pmvtrust.ie