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New national Housing First strategy launched

26th September 2018

Peter McVerry Trust, the national housing and homeless charity, has said that the new national Housing First strategy published today is a game changer in the State’s response to homelessness. The charity, which was an early adopter and leading advocate for the model, believes that the official State funded expansion of the model beyond Dublin will make a huge impact on the number of people sleeping rough and long term homeless service users.

The strategy was launched at Peter McVerry Trust’s social housing development, St Agatha’s Court, in Dublin 1 by the Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy TD, and Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD along with the National Director of Housing First Bob Jordan. Also in attendance was Dr Sam Tsemberis, founder of Pathways Housing First in the New York and creator of the Housing First Model, who is working with Peter McVerry Trust on a multi-annual programme to ensure the charity’s housing first work aligns with international best practice.

Pat Doyle CEO of Peter McVerry Trust said “The publication today of the national Housing First strategy is a game changer in the response to homelessness in this country. Housing First is undoubtedly the best possible response to the needs of people who are sleeping rough, long term shelter users and people with complex needs. Peter McVerry Trust is absolutely delighted that Ireland is set to become a global leader in rolling out Housing First.”

“Housing First is built on the right to housing and ensuring that people have intensive wraparound supports to help them keep their homes. Clearly working to address your issues from a stable home with the help of a highly skilled, professional multi-disciplinary team is much more successful than trying to do so from a congregated setting like emergency homeless accommodation or living rough on the streets.”

Expanded Target Areas and Target Groups

Continuing Mr Doyle said “I am delighted to see the Housing First programme being rolled out to Cork, Galway and Limerick and Peter McVerry Trust is keen to play our role in making that expansion a success. The inclusion of a new rural Housing First programme for the Mid-East region of Kildare, Meath and Wicklow is the first time Housing First will be officially rolled out in non-city environment in Ireland, that scheme will be of huge significance for the rest of the country as it will point to the challenges and benefits of delivering the scheme over a wider area. We are particularly pleased to see it included because as recently as last week when publishing our solutions to rural homelessness we called for a pilot Housing First scheme for rural Ireland.”

“The National Housing First strategy also recognises and proposes the expansion of Housing First to new groups including people leaving the care system and institutions such as prisons. Peter McVerry Trust has strongly advocated for such an expansion and recognition of how Housing First could prevent people who are exiting care centres or prisons sleeping rough or accessing emergency homeless services. It is something we have worked closely with Dr Sam Tsemberis, the founder of Housing First on, and looked closely at how his work in this work can be replicated in Ireland.”

Increased Availability of Housing for Single People

Mr Doyle said he was very confident that housing units for single people would not now be as difficult to secure as they had been in previous years. “The success of the Housing First Model is very much dependent on the availability of housing and in particular appropriate housing for single people. In recent years that has been hugely challenging. I very much believe that with increased housing output particularly by local authorities, approved housing bodies as well as the ramping up of schemes to tackle vacant homes we can look forward to greater availability of housing to ensure the strategy works.”

Importance and Impact of National Director for Housing First

Mr Doyle said that the publication of the strategy has been a while in the making but paid tribute to the work of the new National Director for Housing First, Bob Jordan. “This time last year the Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, was hosting a major housing and homeless summit. At that summit Peter McVerry Trust proposed a national director of housing first to drive the development of a national strategy and work with local authorities to help them understand and adopt the model. Since his appointment to the National Director post in February Bob Jordan has made enormous strides and done great work to bring so many agencies and local authorities on a journey to fully appreciate the importance of housing first and what they needed to do to make it a reality across the country. Today’s strategy launch demonstrates the impact the national director post has had in helping the Government achieve the Housing First strategy.”

The new strategy will complement existing Housing First programmes run by Peter McVerry trust and other charities. Peter McVerry Trust currently operates Housing First programmes in Dublin, Kildare and Limerick.