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Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien has reconvened the High Level Homelessness Taskforce this week. The Taskforce, established immediately following Minister O’Brien’s appointment, reconvened this morning, and will continue to meet weekly to input on the implementation of the commitments on homelessness in the Programme for Government (PfG).

Commenting on reports that a man believed to be homeless had been killed overnight in Dublin 8, Minister O’Brien said:

As we reconvened our homelessness taskforce this morning our thoughts were with the man killed under horrific circumstances last night in Kilmainham. This is now a matter for investigation by the Gardaí and I would urge anyone with information to please come forward.

Minister O’Brien continued:

Supporting individuals and families facing homelessness is a priority for this Government. In the PfG we have committed to reducing and preventing homelessness and to delivering immediate solutions.

The High Level Homelessness Taskforce has met a number of times already and I have found the meetings extremely beneficial and solution driven. As we approach the Winter, while still navigating through COVID-19, protecting those who are experiencing homelessness is one of our key priorities.

Key to the COVID-19 response is the ongoing and close collaboration between local authorities, their NGO service delivery partners and the HSE. The provision of health and mental health supports in general is of particular importance and I recently met with Minister Donnelly on the need for strong collaboration between our two Departments.

My Department is working to ensure that the individuals in emergency accommodation are protected from the threat of COVID-19 while simultaneously seeking long-term housing solutions. We are focussed on measures to help rough sleepers into sustainable accommodation and to reduce single adult homelessness through increasing the delivery of one-bedroom homes. In July a ‘Call for Housing’ issued with a particular emphasis on the need for one beds and the void refurbishment scheme will mean 2,500 additional social homes will be allocated this year.

This morning the Task Force also considered measures to address long-term family homelessness. While the numbers of families in emergency accommodation has fallen by over 25% since February, we need to support all families in emergency accommodation to find a home.

Increasing the supply of housing is essential to resolve homelessness, but in the here and now a wider range of interventions are required to deliver solutions for many of the people experiencing homelessness.

The weekly meetings with those on the frontline of homelessness services, the people who are dealing with it each day, will help to drive solutions and inform decisions. I thank the group for their dedication and their time.

Concluded Minister O’Brien.

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