Communities should have “nothing to fear” about the development of social housing or homeless services, the head of housing agency Respond has said.
Declan Dunne has appealed to towns and villages to “embrace” efforts to fix the crisis rather than object or be suspicious of social housing.
He was speaking at the launch of the housing body’s annual report where Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy confirmed that his department’s winter initiative has already kicked in due to the plummeting temperatures.
Mr Murphy said emergency measures will be in place on a 24/7 basis to ensure nobody has to sleep on the streets, especially if the country is hit by further storms.
“We have more emergency beds coming. I’m meeting with the local authority chief executives this week to talk about the plan and to make sure those beds are in place,” he said.
“We want to make sure every night of the week, regardless of whether it’s the winter period or otherwise, that there’s always a bed there for people who are sleeping rough so that they can come in and get that kind of care that they need.”
Latest figures show that 9,698 people are officially homeless, including 5,869 adults and 3,829 children.
Some advocates consider these figures to be conservative, with one report in recent days claiming 1,600 people removed from the homeless figures are still access services.
Mr Murphy defended the figures used by his officials, saying the discrepancy is down to the financial streams used by local authorities to help those in need.
He said some money used for emergency accommodation was being redirected to support people living independently.
“But because they were using that particular line of funding they were still being recorded as homeless.
“We did a piece of work with local authorities to make sure people were being counted in the right way. These are people in their houses, with their own doors, at no risk of going into emergency accommodation,” the minister said.
He added that it would be “wrong to record those people as being in emergency accommodation when they are not”.
Mr Murphy praised the work of Respond who have plans to provide at least 2,500 new social homed by 2023.
Currently the body are on site in eight different locations, building 414 new homes.