Housing Minister Simon Coveney has appealed to religious congregations to donate properties for social housing after nuns and priests gave the State facilities for families.
His comments come as the Government announces details today to end the use of emergency accommodation, such as hotels, for the homeless
Mr Coveney and other ministers will also outline plans for one-stop shop or centre for homeless people, where they can access family mediation services, social protection services and charities among facilities.
Mr Coveney yesterday discussed properties freely given over for housing purposes by religious congregations while outlining housing initiatives before an Oireachtas Committee.
A group of nuns in Kerry had donated a property in Killarney, he said, while a former convent in Cork had also been made available. This followed the opening of a home for a housing body in Waterford, which was previously occupied by priests.
He said he hoped these actions would be replicated in other parts of the country.
He then “appealed” to any religious congregations watching the committee to contact his department directly if they had similar properties or facilities which might be used for housing.
Mr Coveney said a Government €70m initiative to use vacant properties for housing had resulted in hundreds of facilities being offered so far. It is intended that the housing agency will obtain 1,600 vacant units initially through this fund for social housing. This will also be outlined at the housing launch today.
Mr Coveney told the committee that a decision by some local authorities to reduce their property tax rates and therefore their income stream could have “consequences”.
Councils could not reduce their revenue stream and then asked the general exchequer to pick up the tab, he added.
Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny will be joined by seven ministers, including Minister Coveney, as the Government today launch proposals to end the use of hotels to house the homeless.
The plan, part of the overall Government housing initiative, will include measures to help address addiction problems, mental health concerns and social housing needs.
The housing plan promises that such ‘short-term’ accommodation options will only be used in ‘very limited circumstances’ from mid-2017. It includes ending the use of hotels and B&Bs by then. The plan includes providing families and homeless people with rapid-built units rather than staying in emergency accommodation in hotels or B&Bs.
Homeless figures this week show the number of people sleeping on the streets has reached record levels. The Dublin Simon Community counted 168 people sleeping on the streets on Monday night. Another 60 were recorded as sleeping on the floor of the Merchants Quay night cafe.
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