Local authorities have a wide range of powers to secure
accommodation for homeless people. In addition to the direct provision of housing, local authorities can make arrangements with voluntary organisations to make accommodation available for homeless people, provide financial or other assistance to homeless people and, if necessary, arrange private accommodation.
A homeless person is defined in section 2 of the Housing Act, 1988, as a person, who, in the opinion of the local authority concerned:
(a) has no accommodation available which he or any other person who normally resides with him, or might reasonably be expected to reside with him, can reasonably occupy or remain in occupation of,
(b) is living in a hospital, county home, night shelter or other such institution because he does not have accommodation of the kind referred to in (a).
is unable to provide accommodation from his own resources.
This means that persons who have no accommodation available to them and persons living in night shelters etc. solely because they have no other accommodation may be regarded as homeless by the local authority where they are unable to provide accommodation from their own resources.
Accommodation, depending upon whether the need is for long term, transitional or emergency accommodation, can take the form of local authority housing, hostel type accommodation provided by statutory agencies or voluntary bodies, emergency bed and breakfast accommodation provided in the private sector, or suitable private rented accommodation.
People in need of permanent housing can apply to a local authority for a tenancy in a local authority house or flat. Applicants are assessed by the local authority and, if eligible, are placed on the local authority's housing list. The time taken before a tenancy is allocated will depend on the demand for housing in the local authority's area and the individual circumstances of applicants waiting for housing. In the meantime, a homeless person may remain in a hostel, bed and breakfast, or private rented accommodation.
A range of hostel type accommodation is available for homeless people. Some of this accommodation is available on a nightly (usually first-come) basis while some is used as transitional or long-term accommodation. Voluntary bodies operate accommodation for homeless people throughout the country; these include the St Vincent de Paul Society (in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford and other locations), the Simon Community (in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Dundalk), the Iveagh Trust, Focus Ireland (in Dublin) etc. In the Dublin area, Dublin Corporation and the Eastern Regional Health Authority also operate hostel accommodation.
Where the accommodation needs of a homeless person or family are immediate and acute and no suitable hostel accommodation is available they may be referred by a local authority, a health board or other body to bed and breakfast type accommodation until their needs and options can be more fully established.
Suitable private rented accommodation may be an appropriate accommodation option for some homeless people.
Health boards and voluntary bodies provide accommodation and services specifically for victims of domestic violence. The local Health Board will have details of accommodation and services in its area.
Ballina Office (096) 76100
Ballinrobe Office (094) 9541111
Belmullet Office (097) 81004
Castlebar Office (094) 9024444
Claremorris Office (094) 9362954
Swinford Office (094) 9251495
Westport Office (098) 50400