The Government has set 2016 as the target for ending long-term homelessness.

Minister for Housing and Planning Jan O'Sullivan made the announcement at the launch of the Government's Homelessness Policy Statement at the Custom House in Dublin this morning.

She said: "Homelessness is an affront to every value that we assign to the concept of citizenship. In a real republic there is an onus on us all to ensure that all citizens have a place they can call home."

The idea behind the policy is that people are provided with long-term, stable housing as early as possible, she said.

The policy moves away from the traditional 'staircase' model, which sees individuals and families move between various stages, including emergency accomodation, before eventually securing an appropriate place.

By moving away from over-reliance on expensive emergency accommodation, the "housing-led" strategy can also provide better value for the significant amount of public money invested in homeless services.

Director of Threshold Bob Jordan said the policy marked a new departure for the Government.

He said the housing-led approach is something Threshold had called for over many years.

“We know it represents much better value for money to prioritise homelessness-prevention measures, rather than focusing primarily on supports for people who are homeless," Mr Jordan said.

In its work in recent years, Threshold has highlighted how it costs approximately €29,000 to keep a person in emergency accommodation for one year, compared to €11,000 for accommodating them in the private rented sector.

Threshold also welcomed the Government's aim, describing it as as an ambitious goal.

"If this new policy is effectively implemented, we believe it can be achieved," Mr Jordan said.