Local connection should not be barrier emergency accommodation – Housing Minister

Local connection should not be barrier emergency accommodation – Housing Minister

RTÉ Investigates claims that homeless people in Dublin were unable to access accommodation, despite beds being available. Picture: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie

The Minister for Housing has again stressed that no one should be sleeping rough or turned away from emergency accommodation because they don't have a "local connection".

It comes after an RTÉ Investigates programme which showed the difficulties faced by some people trying to access emergency accommodation in Dublin.

The issue of 'local connection' - the requirement for people who are homeless to prove a local connection to a particular council area - has come into sharper focus in recent months, with Focus Ireland among the homeless support organisations to recently criticise it.

Last December Minister Darragh O'Brien said the local connection should not be a barrier to access to emergency accommodation, but the RTÉ programme showed it still presented difficulties for many people.

Mr O'Brien said he had watched the programme and tweeted: "No one should be sleeping rough when there is spare capacity in our system. Local connection should not be a barrier to anyone who needs emergency accommodation and I made that very clear to all Local Authorities in December and have reiterated it many times since then."

He said tackling the homelessness crisis was "a top priority" and while the number of people in emergency accommodation has fallen, "it's not enough".

He said increasing social housing supply was key, that he was working with the Homelessness Taskforce to address related issues as well as increasing funding for homeless services. 

He added that it was hoped 663 Housing First tenancies would be in place by the end of 2021.

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