Pathway to Eradicating Homelessness, Increasing Social Housing Delivery and Supporting Social Inclusion


Pathway Two of the Government’s Housing for All plan aims to cater for the most vulnerable in society, the homeless, the restricted options for older people, and those with disabilities. The Government also continue to be committed to the current National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021 and whatever continued actions that arise from this going forward.

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Paul McCutcheon & David Mullins

1. Eradicate Homelessness

The Government intend to liaise closely with Local Authorities, Non Government Organisations (NGO), Approved Housing Bodies (AHB) and the Health Service Executive (HSE) to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness and provide long-term accommodation solutions. The Government will also introduce a National Homeless Action Committee which will work with all agencies to provide co-ordination and coherence in delivering policy measures. There will be a focus on developing emergency accommodation which will acquire existing properties for conversion, and land or sites to develop purpose-built facilities, using the capital funding streams available to Local Authorities and AHBs. The availability of social housing is one of the key factors in addressing homelessness and the availability of one bed homes for individuals needs to be addressed. Local Authorities will be obliged to set out delivery targets, including targets for one bed homes in their new Housing Delivery Action Plans which Housing for All mandates them to prepare and which will be available by December 2021. This new approach also aligns with the EU’s Lisbon Declaration in Combatting Homelessness. 

  • Expand Housing First
    The Housing First approach has been in operation since 2018 and is coordinated by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH), the Department of Health, the HSE and Local Authorities, in conjunction with NGO partners to provide housing to those with a history of sleeping rough and those with complex needs. This programme is expected to provide on average 240 tenancies per annum going forward.
  • Support the health needs of people who are homeless
    The new policy aims to target and cater on the specific health needs of the homeless. By building on the Covid-19 response to homelessness, the HSE Winter Plan, the policy aims to include:
    - individual health care plans;
    - tailored drug and alcohol treatment services; and
    - mental health supports, especially for rough sleepers.
  • Prevent and address Family, Child and Youth Homelessness
    Local Authorities, NGOs, and the Homeless Housing Assistance Programme (HAP) will work together to pinpoint families in long-term homeless situations that require assistance and support. Tusla and the Children and Young People’s Services Committees will aim to provide the correct support through targeted projects like the National Childcare Scheme to access childcare services where required. The aim of by providing these supports to children and families is to avoid a cycle of longer-term homelessness.


2. Increase Social Housing Delivery

The Government wishes for Local Authorities and AHBs to begin building at a larger scale and shall shortly roll out the largest house building programme in the history of the State with the aim of ending the long-term leasing policies operated by Local Authorities by 2025.

  • Deliver More Social Homes
    The Government wishes for Local Authorities to increase the number of homes owned by the Local Authority and has set a target to deliver more than 90,000 social homes by 2030. The Government shall partner with AHBs to deliver social housing. The Government will provide increased funding to AHBs through initiatives like Capital Advance Leasing Facility. The Government intends to utilise Public Private Partnership (PPP) to also deliver housing developments. PPPs are providing almost of 1,500 social homes nationally between 2020 and 2024 with the focus on providing housing in cities.

    The Land Development Agency (LDA) will also be required to provide social housing which shall be leased to Local Authorities. Local Authorities will be supported in acquiring land banks to deliver more social housing.

    Where people are in arrears of their mortgage, a ‘Mortgage to Rent’ scheme will assist those who are risk of losing their homes. It is targeted at supporting households in mortgage arrears who have had their mortgage position deemed unsustainable by their lender under the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process and who agree to the voluntary surrender of their home and qualify for social housing support.

    Although the latest plans hope to eradicate homelessness, none of this will bring overnight success and the Government shall continue to provide social housing through the private rental market and to support over 60,000 households currently in receipt of HAP. The Government anticipate that, as new build supply increases, HAP and rental accommodation through the private market shall decrease.
  • New Local Authority Housing Delivery Action Plans
    An increased focus on Local Authority driven plans will see Local Authorities create and submit to the Minister for approval their Social Housing Assessments by no later than December 2021 for the next five years. These plans will set out how Local Authorities envisage delivering on their targets and how it aligns within the Housing Delivery Action Plans.

3. Reform of Existing Schemes

A number of Local Authority schemes and Government programmes are currently in place to counter homelessness. These shall be reviewed and reformed where necessary under the current Housing for All programme.

  • Reform Differential Rents
    Currently, there are 32 different Rent Schemes in place across Ireland, meaning that different rent rates are applicable across the country depending on the Local Authority. It is intended that these will be reformed to a fairer and more uniform scheme.
  • Reform Tenant Purchase Scheme
    Local Authority homes will also be available for purchase by tenants where thy have been in situ for ten years. A discount of up to a maximum of 25% will be available to a tenant.
  • Roll Out of Choice
    Choice Based Letting will allow those on a social housing waiting list to register for available homes. Although currently available with certain Local Authorities, it is intended that this will be available across the country.
  • Review & Reform Income Eligibility for Social Housing
    The eligibility for the Social Housing Assessment thresholds will be reviewed. This review will include of the current income threshold limits of each participant.
  • Examine Regulation of Social Housing
    Prior to the end of 2021, a new Commission will be introduced which will examine whether a social housing equivalent of the Private Residential Tenancies Board will be required.

4. Support Social Inclusion

The core aims of the government’s social inclusion policy are to:

  • Expand the Housing Options for Older Persons
    This programme aims to increase the housing options available to older people. These will include policies and operational supports for older people considering right-sizing to smaller housing homes. Working closely with the Department of Health and the HSE, the Government hope to allow older people to be properly supported in their homes and communities for as long as possible. An emphasis will also be placed on Local Authorities to consider the needs of older people across the broader planning focus. Housing schemes shall focus on the ability to live independently, with a sense of community and security.   
  • Increase Housing Supports for People with a Disability
    According to the latest figures, nearly 650,000 people live in Ireland with a disability. The current National Housing Strategy for People with a Disability ends in 2021 and work is underway on building on the progress to date as well as implementing a new strategy to allow for individual choice of living, independent living and a range of housing to support this. Similar to the housing aims for the elderly, Local Authorities must plan for this housing in the wider housing context. The Department of Health, the DHLGH will focus on supporting those with disabilities into congregated communities to deliver health and social care and ensure the co-ordination of appropriately adapted housing provisions. Housing and Disability Steering Groups are now established in each Local Authority area.
  • Support Traveller Accommodation Addressing
    Since the introduction of the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998, Local Authorities have a statutory responsibility for the assessment of the accommodation needs of Travellers and the preparation, adoption and implementation of multiannual Traveller Accommodation Programmes (TAPs) in their areas. The current TAPs scheme shall run to 2024. The TAPs currently in place across all 31 Local Authority areas cover the period 2019-2024. The DHLGH‘s role is to ensure that the correct funding and legislation is in place. A Traveller specific newbuild accommodation pipeline is being developed by Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies. Financial support for Traveller communities and the management and maintenance of existing halting sites and group housing scheme accommodation has been increased by 50% in 2021.
  • Support International Protection and Refugee Accommodation
    It is anticipated that Local Authorities will provide accommodation of the 2,900 refugees under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme 2020-2023. Local Authorities, the DHLGH, and agencies under its remit, will also support the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth in its implementation of the white paper to End Direct Provision and to Establish a New International Protection Support Service policy proposals and the Irish Refugee Protection Programme 2020-2023.
  • Continue the Capital Assistance Scheme
    The Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS) supports the needs of vulnerable individuals and families for permanent housing or temporary/emergency needs. CAS works with Local Authorities, AHBs and other NGOs together with a range of Departments and Agencies such as HSE and Tusla. Funding under CAS has grown in recent years and in 2021 stands at €96m. Funding has seen the development of new refuges for victims of domestic, sexual and gender based violence, housing for care leavers, de-congregation and returning emigrants. As such, this scheme performs a very important function in directly funding housing for the most vulnerable of sectors of society.

As can be seen from some of the proposed programmes outlined above, many of these appear to be similar to schemes which have already been introduced in the past or is a continuation of schemes currently being run. One can hope that the reforms introduced under this plan will bolster what has been learned under previous schemes and alleviate the problems of those most vulnerable who are affected by the housing crisis. The other striking element of this Pathway is the anticipation that multiple governmental agencies shall work together. This may lead to further additional administration and may cause further delays to any change rather than providing fast action where needed. We also see the government focus on PPP within city areas and one hopes that this focus does not see a further demise of rural towns and villages.   

Please note this Article is not intended as legal advice. If you have any queries, please contact wither Paul McCutcheon or David Mullins whose contact details are set out below.


Paul McCutcheon, Partner
M: 087 632 2591

David Mullins, Senior Associate
M: 087 700 7480

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