Finneran announces start of new accommodation and support scheme and major changes in Dublin homeless services 300 homeless households to benefit from new scheme in 2009
Mr Michael Finneran, T.D, Minister for Housing and Local Services today
(24 June 2009) announced the start of a new scheme to help people to progress from homelessness to independent living in mainstream housing.
As well as providing appropriate accommodation, the SLÍ scheme (Support to Live Independently), which will target persons with low to medium support needs, will involve the provision of the necessary supports, reducing over time, to help formerly homeless people to sustain their tenancies and make a successful transition to independent living. In addition, those who it is considered can progress from homelessness with little or no support will be able to access private rented accommodation through the national rollout of a variant of the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS).
"The SLÍ scheme is a key component of the programme of action involved in achieving the objectives of the Government's Homeless Strategy, particularly the goal of ending long term occupation of emergency and transitional facilities", said the Minister. The scheme was developed through extensive consultation and takes account of the outcome of studies of homeless services in Dublin over the past year.
Emphasising the need for early progress, Minister Finneran said "I am glad to say that the SLÍ scheme will get underway immediately in Dublin, with around 50 homeless households already identified as able to move quickly to mainstream housing". Pending the launch of a procurement process for further support services, as necessary, in early July, supports will be provided using existing staff resources. Assessment of the support requirements of further residents in private emergency accommodation will begin immediately, with a target of around 75 assessments to be completed over the next month, underpinning further momentum on this crucial initiative to accelerate progress along the pathway from homelessness to independent living. Overall, a target of 300 households to benefit from the scheme has been set for 2009.
The scheme will be stepped up progressively over the coming months and arrangements for implementation in centres outside Dublin will be pursued with the relevant local authorities. Other means of providing long-term housing for people leaving homelessness will also be fully exploited. For example, in Dublin, a target of 300 mainstream social housing allocations for homeless persons in 2009 has been agreed, in addition to the target of 300 under the SLÍ scheme. "I expect similar targets, proportionate to needs, to be pursued in other areas", commented Minister Finneran.
Minister Finneran also welcomed the completion by the Homeless Agency of what he termed a comprehensive model of homeless services in Dublin, which will involve significant changes in aspects of services. Some of the main features highlighted include: provision of assessment and placement services for homeless persons by each local authority; amalgamation of homeless outreach services; a new performance management system for homeless services; and a rigorous system for managing private emergency accommodation, which will free up significant resources.
Important improvements in efficiency and value for money are also anticipated from re-configuration of services as implementation of the new model is rolled out.
"The launch of the new scheme and the changes in homeless services in Dublin are examples of the practical outcome of a great deal of policy development work on homelessness, as manifested by the Homeless Strategy published last year and its Implementation Plan published earlier this year", said Minister Finneran.
The Minister concluded with a strong call for action to grasp the opportunity presented by the high level of funding for homeless services in 2009 to make major inroads on homelessness and progress towards the goal of ending long-term homelessness by the end of 2010.
The Minister indicated that final details of the SLÍ initiative will be issued to local authorities in the coming days. A summary of the main features of the new scheme is attached.
SLÍ - a way to a home for homeless people
General features of SLÍ scheme
- The target group for this scheme is households with low to
medium support needs who should be capable of sustaining a home independently in mainstream housing.
- The scheme will be focussed primarily on persons in emergency
(private and other) and transitional homeless accommodation with the emphasis, particularly in the initial stages, on persons who have been residing in private emergency or "B&B" type accommodation longer than 6 months.
- Support services will be procured, as necessary, through a
process of competitive tendering and will not be tied to particular accommodation, which should allow maximum flexibility in sourcing and deploying support services, matching support to households across an area or "bundles" of tenancies.
- The supports to be provided, within the low to medium support
range, will be defined in tender documentation based on recommendations by the Homeless Agency. Support will reduce appropriately in accordance with the household's progress.
- Operation of the support services and related payments in
respect of the specified service will be in accordance with contracts, which will provide for annual review; performance of support service providers and progress with the scheme generally will be monitored from the outset of the scheme.
- Tenants will be selected local authorities, in accordance with
assessment/selection criteria drawn up by the Homeless Agency, having regard to their potential to sustain an independent tenancy with the level of support under the scheme.
- A key feature of the SLÍ scheme is that accommodation will be
under the control and management of the local authority or an appropriate service provider organisation. The relevant local authority or contracted body, as the case may be, will, accordingly, be the landlord, which will facilitate management and support.
- Accommodation for use under the SLÍ scheme will be sourced
either through the social housing leasing scheme or from available unsold affordable housing, including any future accommodation which is procured from those sources. In all cases dwellings assigned for use under the scheme will be suitable to address the needs of the homeless household.
- Relevant considerations in assigning accommodation to this
scheme will include, cost, unit type and size, quality and location (including sustainable community considerations and likely requirements for access to services by the profile of households to be accommodated).
- The Department is currently developing arrangements to enable
the voluntary sector to procure accommodation under the social housing leasing scheme and it is expected that details on this will issue shortly.
- It will be open to a particular organisation with appropriate
capacity and expertise to participate in the different elements of the scheme. An organisation involved sourcing and or management of accommodation for the purposes of the scheme could tender separately for the provision of support services.
- While the assignment of affordable units to the SLÍ scheme will
be subject to review after 5 years, there will be scope to extend this period and in all cases, care will be taken to avoid detrimental effect on tenants.
- Scheme costs will be met entirely through revenue funding from
the proceeds of savings on emergency/transitional accommodation vacated as persons move to mainstream accommodation. A proportion of the current 'section 10" funding available to DEHLG for homelessness will be ring-fenced for this purpose as the position regarding likely costs and numbers becomes clearer.
- Roll-out of the SLÍ scheme will commence immediately in Dublin.
Roll-out to other areas of relatively high/long-term occupancy of emergency and transitional accommodation will be pursued with individual local authorities.
- Other specific points of interest in relation to the new scheme
- there will be appropriate flexibility to vary levels of support
in accordance with any significant changes households" needs;
- in addition to direct housing supports, a function of the
support service will be to assist linkage of households with other necessary services e.g. health;
- households accommodated under the scheme can apply for transfer
to local authority housing;
- Full details of the SLÍ scheme will issue local authorities in
the coming days.
- The homeless variant of the RAS scheme, which is now being
rolled out nationally, has been piloted successfully in a number of areas. This involves lower support levels (in some cases no support
needs) than the SLÍ scheme and unlike the latter, involves private rented accommodation under the control of a private landlord. In contrast with the standard RAS scheme, eligibility is open to formerly homeless households less than 18 months on rent supplement.
- Action to address other aspects of homelessness, including
long-term/high support needs will be pursued under the Homeless Strategy Implementation Plan and local homeless action plans.
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