Leo Varadkar says homeless testimonies in the media are 'not often the full story'

Update 9.05pm: Leo Varadkar says he is affected by the personal stories of those being made homeless, but the stories in the media don't always portray 'the full story'.

He says he understands there are real people who are suffering behind the headlines.

"One person soundbite is another person's fact or lived experience and of course it's very much on my mind, all of the issues relating to housing and homelessness, said

"I'm very saddened to hear of many of the stories that I do hear in the media. I'm also aware that in many cases, when it does come to individuals stories, it's not often the full story," he added.

The government held its long-awaited emergency housing summit today, announcing €10m for family accommodation hubs and 200 extra emergency beds.

Additional funding for family hubs and health supports has also been announced.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy says an extra 800 social houses will be built next year, on top of the 3,000 previously announced.

The 'My Name is' campaign was launched recently to tell the stories of the 3,000 children that are currently living in emergency accommodation here.

They held a rally today outside Custom House before the announcement was made.

The campaign gives a voice to children living in homelessness.

Previously, Minister Simon Coveney said that a potential levy on vacant properties was "under consideration" in April.

The Taoiseach stated today that a vacant property levy "is not something we rule out and is something under consideration" but little action has been taken address the number of vacant properties around the country.

Reacting to the announcements, Inner City Helping Homeless have welcomed the increase in emergency accommodation beds as well as the multi departmental task force. They described the move as a "serious step in tackling the homeless crisis.

CEO Anthony Flynn said: "I also welcome the Ministers Housing Plan but I believe that it falls a long way short of the required number of social housing builds needed to tackle this crisis. An additional 800 units isn't what is required to really address the current demand for social housing."

"Additional funding into family hubs isn't the solution either. Reports have shown the negative impact these types of direct provision "family focused facilities" has on children's health and wellbeing, the only solution to these issues is to provide proper homes for the 3,000 children homeless in Ireland today," he added.

Earlier: 200 extra emergency beds are being made available in Dublin by December.

800 new social housing homes also are set to be built next year, with the total number of available houses set to be 5,000 when combined with houses bought from private sites and refurbished social housing.

That is just one of the announcements made by Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy this evening.

He has also ring-fenced €10m in additional funding for family hubs as demand arises from Local Authorities.

A Homeless Inter-Agency Group is to be established immediately to deliver homeless services in a coherent fashion which will be chaired by a former Secretary General.

Minister Eoghan Murphy responded to criticism that the numbers of homeless keep rising.

"We are giving every help that we can from the Department of Housing, from every other government agency and department, as are the voluntary sector," said Mr Murphy.

"Sometimes no matter what we do, it will never be enough but that doesn't mean that we won't have to keep on trying, and we will," he added.

Minister Harris is also providing €1.5m this year to improve homeless health supports and services, with a view to increase next year.

Primary care, mental health & addiction services will be extended to more emergency accommodation facilities in 2017 and 2018.

The Housing Department's annual social inclusion budget for homelessness to €36 million in 2018, marking a 20% increase since 2015.

Homeless families in Dublin wishing to move to locations outside Dublin will be facilitated to do so using the Place Finder Service in each local authority. This will assist homeless households accessing suitable properties, as well as providing them with advice and support in establishing their new lives in a different local authority area.

A "first in, first out" policy will be implemented "subject to extenuating circumstances" by a new Homeless Inter-Agency Group which is being established to deliver homeless services.

The new inter-agency group will facilitate the policy so that those longest in emergency accommodation and families with medical or particular needs are prioritised for transition.

Refusals by those in emergency accommodation of reasonable offers of accommodation will be urgently examined to provide "a consistent approach to such refusals being implemented nationally".

Landlords will now be required to notify the Residential Tenancies Board when issuing a Notice of Termination to a tenant.

The RTB will then write to each tenant providing them with advice and guidance. They will provide them with the name and contact details of the relevant local authority officials to contact if they are having difficulty in accessing alternative accommodation.

A new Mortgage to Rent scheme will be announced before the end of the month for people dealing with mortgage arrears.


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