Peter McVerry Trust (PMVT) annual report has revealed an increase of 2,800% in the number of beds it has provided in emergency accommodation in the last decade.
The figures released in the latest annual report by the national housing and homeless charity revealed that their bed capacity has seen a twenty-eight fold increase in the past ten years.
“We’ve been responding to a deepening crisis for the past five years and each year, as the number of people in homelessness has grown higher, it has become much more difficult to respond as resources are stretched ever further,” said Pat Doyle, CEO of Peter McVerry Trust.
“We have said to government all along that the solution has to be a housing led one yet we find ourselves constantly being asked to deliver greater levels of emergency accommodation,” said Mr. Doyle.
Mr. Doyle also said that this is “frustrating” because “emergency accommodation is more expensive and less effective than other models such as Housing First. Yet Housing First receives less than one percent of the national homeless budget each year in Ireland.”
The report also found that there was a sixteen percent increase in the number of people in housing supported by the trust.
The trust said the government should “switch its funding to more effective forms of responding to homelessness, such as Housing First rather than continue to rely more and more [on] emergency accommodation.”
Speaking at the launch of the report at the Croke Park Conference Centre, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, said the Housing First model “almost seems obvious as a solution.”
The Minister however said “that wasn’t the case when it was first introduced, and it has needed its own pioneers here in Ireland, which it has in the McVerry Trust.”
The Housing First model is based on providing both housing and intensive case management which aims to end rough sleeping by helping people with access to housing and support for health or social needs so they can live independently in a community.
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.
Minister Murphy said he had recently met with Dr Tsemberis to discuss the Housing First model and its success in other countries. “I have read a great deal about it, and indeed it was probably the first thing that Pat and Fr Peter raised with me when we met in my first week on the job,” said Minister Murphy.
The minister also thanked Father McVerry, the trust’s many employees and CEO Pat Doyle for their hard work with the charity.
“We are dealing with a crisis in homelessness – a crisis which has a number of different fronts, which must be tackled simultaneously,” said Minister Murphy.
He also announced that a Director of Housing First will be put in place by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive shortly.
The Minister added: “The Rebuilding Ireland target is to triple housing first in Dublin to 300 – this is being vigorously pursued. It of course requires the building of more single accommodation by local authorities and Housing bodies.”
The report also found that 1,208 people accessed the charity’s prevention services in 2016. Some of the prevention services include the Information and Access Centre, the Homeless Youth Cafe and the Streets to Home support service.
By Keeva Tyrell