Wicklow County Council is committed to the Housing First model which is being rolled out across the Mid-East Region (Wicklow, Kildare and Meath). Wicklow had its first client accommodated in December 2019, with a further client in January 2020.
Other clients proposed for Housing First have been assessed by the team and are currently receiving relevant supports.
The Rebuilding Ireland: Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness sets out the Government’s aim to introduce Housing First as a means to address homelessness, by strengthening the housing led approach and extending it nationally, focussing on persistent rough sleepers and long-term homeless households. To this end the Housing First National Implementation Plan 2018-2021 was published in September 2018. The commitment to deliver Housing First is a key action of the Mid East Region Homelessness Action Plan 2018-2020.
Kildare County Council, as the lead authority for the Mid-East Region Homelessness Forum, with the local authorities of Meath and Wicklow, and in partnership with the Health Service Executive, has established a regional Housing First service. The service is co-funded by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and the Department of Health. The Mid East Homeless Forum is advised by a multi-agency group including Non-Governmental Organisations in the sector and other relevant Statutory agencies.
Following a tender process, The Peter McVerry Trust was chosen to deliver Housing First across the Mid-East Region. The Housing First model is a participant-centred approach that focuses on ending homelessness for people with high and complex needs who have been rough sleeping or using emergency homeless accommodation for long periods of time. This is achieved by providing the individual with direct access to secure, independent housing without preconditions and this is accompanied by intensive wraparound housing and health supports.
The coordinated service is now available in Kildare, Meath and Wicklow with the purpose of providing tenancies in self-contained independent housing units, with the combined services of the Health Service Executive’s primary care, mental health and substance misuse teams, working in collaboration with TUSLA, the Gardaí and other voluntary agencies, managed by The Peter McVerry Trust.
Signing a Housing First Service Level Agreement with The Peter McVerry Trust today, Mr. Peter Carey, Chief Executive of Kildare County Council, noted that the central objective is the ending of rough sleeping and long-term emergency accommodation use. He noted the service model includes intensive wrap-around supports for tenancy and health supports provided to Housing First clients in a timely and appropriate manner and for as long as required.
Mr. Pat Doyle, Chief Executive of the Peter McVerry Trust, stated that the service’s immediate focus is on an active settlement approach, utilising trauma-informed care which emphasises physical, psychological and emotional safety for the service user to assist them in rebuilding a sense of control and empowerment. The overall outcome is that the person is progressed successfully and sustained out of homelessness and into an appropriate tenancy arrangement.
A priority intake list for Housing First will be jointly managed by the Local Authorities, the HSE and the Peter McVerry Trust. Ms. Ann O’Shea, Chief Officer of the Community Health Office serving Dublin South, Kildare and West-Wicklow stated that Housing First participants will be offered intensive, time-unlimited (for as long as the participant needs) visiting support from a team capable of responding to a wide range of needs including alcohol and/or drug dependency, physical and mental health (enduring or otherwise) needs.
Working in partnership, the multidisciplinary team has successfully provided secure and supported accommodation for six individuals to date, and provided additional practical support with moving in, getting established and healthy life skills to support long term tenancies.