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Housing First gets national director

By Ann Marie Foley - 25 January, 2018

A National Director of Housing First, is vital in reducing homelessness both in Dublin and around the country, according to the Peter McVerry Trust which welcomed the appointment of Bob Jordan.

Housing First aims to provide housing quickly, as well as support for those experiencing homelessness so they can access health services, education or employment and other means to improve their quality of life.

“The Housing First model is critical to reducing homelessness in Ireland,” said Pat Doyle, CEO, Peter McVerry Trust (PMVT). He highlighted that his organisation sought for it, and Minister Murphy committed to it last September (2017).

“The new director will play an integral role in expanding Housing First in conjunction with the Local Authorities beyond the Dublin region in a coordinated manner,” Pat Doyle added.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, announced that former Threshold chief executive, Bob Jordan, is to be the first ever National Director of Housing First, on 22nd January 2018. Pat Doyle wished the new director every success stating that he is an experienced and well-respected figure in the housing and homeless sector and he expressed the hope that he will have the resources to do the job properly.

“The National Director will be working with the DRHE (Dublin Region Homeless Executive) and tapping into their knowledge and expertise of rolling out new measures nationally for the homeless sector,” said Pat Doyle.

He explained that Housing First as a model of responding to the needs of people in homelessness, has been very successful, where implemented in Ireland to date.

“The challenge now is to bring it to vulnerable groups who are not yet availing of it, and ensure that new Housing First services maintain the tenancy sustainment rate of over 90% that the Dublin project has generated to date,” he said.

At the launch of its Annual Report for 2016 in November 2017, PMVT said that emergency accommodation is more expensive and less effective than Housing First which receives less than 1% of the national annual homeless budget in Ireland. In other countries up to 50% of the homeless services budget must be invested in the Housing First model.

Housing First is internationally recognised.  The National Alliance to End Homelessness in Ireland states that the Housing First model allows people to access housing faster and they are more likely to stay housed. A variety of studies have shown that between 75% and 91% of households remain housed a year after being rapidly re-housed.

It has also been found to be cost efficient because housed people who have supports, are less likely to use emergency services, including hospitals, jails, and emergency shelter, than those who are homeless. One study found an average cost savings on emergency services of $31,545 per person housed in a Housing First program over the course of two years. Another study showed that a Housing First program could cost up to $23,000 less per consumer per year than a shelter program.

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