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.
Housing First National Implementation Plan 2022-2026
In December 2021, the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, TD, along with the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Frank Feighan TD, and President of the Irish Council for Social Housing and CEO of Peter McVerry Trust, Pat Doyle, launched the Housing First National Implementation Plan for 2022-2026.
Under the plan, an additional 1,319 supported tenancies are to be delivered over the next five years. This will ensure that Housing First continues to operate and expand in every county of Ireland.
The Housing First Programme has already helped more than 600 long-term homeless individuals into their own homes for life, with wrap-around supports available to them to keep them in those homes. It is now operational in every county in Ireland and has exceeded the targets initially set out in the first National Implementation Plan (2018-2021).
National Housing First Office
In March 2022, the Housing Agency and the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, TD, launched Ireland’s first Housing First National Office.
The Housing First National Office is a new national directorate based at The Housing Agency, which – under Rob Lowth’s leadership – will be responsible for coordinating and driving a national, cross-Government approach to Housing First, as set out in the ‘Housing First National Implementation Plan, 2022-2026’.
Working in partnership with local authorities, HSE, NGOs and Approved Housing Bodies the office will:
- Support regional and local delivery of the Housing First programme;
- Oversee performance on the achievement of agreed Housing First targets; and
- Evaluate the processes used in implementing Housing First in Ireland.