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More homeless people housed as Airbnb market hit by COVID-19

By Ann Marie Foley - 04 May, 2020

Benny, who was recently housed by the Peter McVerry Trust

Homeless charities have been able to house more families than usual as the demand for Airbnb accommodation has crashed due to the pandemic.

Focus Ireland and its partners have moved 80 families with 150 children out of homelessness since the start of the COVID-19 restrictions.

“The family team is working hard and has managed to help more families to secure a home as there has been more accommodation on the market due to the impact of the pandemic on areas such as Airbnb,” stated Focus Ireland, which worked in partnership with Homeless Dublin and Dublin City Council.

The Peter McVerry Trust (PMVT) has noticed that more apartments for single people have become available since the COVID-19 restrictions were put in place, and has housed 26 people since the virus struck.

“With COVID-19, there has been a sharp rise in the number of one-bedroom apartments on the market. The goal is to secure as many of these as we can, in order to move people into their own homes which, alongside long-term leased homes and traditional social housing, will take more people out of homelessness for good,” said Pat Doyle, CEO of PMVT.

PMVT’s Housing First model, which targets people sleeping rough and long-term hostel users for housing and gives them a lot of extra supports, has housed more than two dozen people in the past few weeks, and more are expected to move very soon.

“The Housing First programme in particular is incredibly important as it works with people sleeping rough, people who have been using hostels for the longest, and those with the most complex needs. Many of the individuals targeted by the programme are most at risk from COVID-19 because of their health,” said Mr Doyle. “The fact that we are able to secure, make ready, and move people into housing is great because it provides them with a home that they can self-isolate or cocoon in.”

PMVT staff furnish and kit out the new homes in advance, and ensure that those arriving have food so that there is no need for physical interaction, as required by COVID-19 rules.

Mr Doyle stated that there is now a real opportunity to secure more one-bedroom apartments to help those people who benefit from programmes like Housing First.

It is not all good news, however, as COVID-19 restrictions have closed many building sites which would have provided new homes, and there will be further delays due to restrictions such as social distancing when the sites open again. The Irish Times reported that a new Knight Frank study has estimated that new completions of housing units in 2020 will be down by 25-40 per cent on the 21,241 units built last year.

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