The housing and homelessness charity Peter McVerry Trust has said it supported over 10,000 people in 2021, an increase of almost 30% on the previous year.

The trust's annual report being published today outlines an increase in the charity's own housing delivery and tenant support services along with its Covid-19 response in 2021.

Fr Peter McVerry, the founder of the charity, said it was able to give 1,200 people a key to their own home last year.

Peter McVerry Trust is active in 28 out of the 31 local authorities and offers homeless service provisions in five counties: Dublin, Louth, Meath, Kildare and Galway city.

CEO Pat Doyle said 2021 marked ten years of the charity delivering the Housing First model with the Peter McVerry Trust responsible for 61% of the services delivered under the National Housing First Implementation Plan.

The Housing First model provides a home and wraparound supports to homeless people, replacing the old model which required them to overcome their issues before getting housing.

Peter McVerry Trust has said it is aiming to deliver 300 new homes over the coming months while the moratorium on evictions is in place.

Speaking at site at one of the charity's social housing construction projects in Rathmines, Mr Doyle, said "The five months that it is effective will allow some of the projects that have been delayed to come on stream, it should reduce the number of people coming into homelessness and gives us a window of opportunity to ramp up delivery."

Construction is underway on a €4.4m project at Eagle Lodge to develop 19 apartments on the site of a former hostel.

The 19 units are part of the plan announced today to develop 300 new homes.

Pat Doyle and Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien at the charity's latest social housing project in Rathmines (Pic credit:

Mr Doyle said the charity had 680 active Housing First tenancies across 14 local authorities by the end of last year.

"Our efforts to grow Housing First go hand in hand with our social housing delivery programme and we delivered almost 200 new social homes in 2021, our best year so far," he said.

The report says the social housing units were delivered across a range of schemes "through construction, renewal, acquisition, and leasing" in partnership with the Department of Housing, the Housing Agency and local authorities across Ireland.

Speaking this afternoon, Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien said: "we're dealing with ten to 12 years of under delivery, but thankfully we're seeing a step change in housing delivery".

"We're going to deliver more social homes this year, new builds and other homes coming through than we've done in decades".

Pat Doyle with Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien (Pic

The Minister said the target got social housing delivery is 10,500 this year will be reached "which will be a very significant step forward."

The charity says its Covid-19 response helped thousands of people impacted by homelessness to self-isolate and supported over 1,500 vulnerable participants to be vaccinated by the end of 2021.

Mr Doyle said the pandemic provided "a hidden opportunity to deliver vital supports to vulnerable people, some of whom have not engaged with homeless services for years".

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Doyle said a moratorium on evictions is much needed, but during the time available the Government needs to provide more housing and called on all the approved housing bodies to bring forward their building programmes.

Hostel concerns

Fr McVerry said "the solution to homelessness is to provide people with a home" and that is the priority of PMVT.

"Although we provide hostel accommodation for almost 1,000 people every night, they still remain homeless," he said.

He said there needs to be a radical overhaul of the provision of hostel accommodation for homeless people, reiterating his position that the Health Information and Quality Authority should inspect hostels and publish the reports.

Fr McVerry said while some hostels were of excellent standard, others are very poor, and he believes HIQA would close them overnight.