Case Management Guidebook

Comprehensive guidance and support to professionals working in homeless and drug services

Pathways out of homelessness

The overarching aim of homeless services is to work together to assist people out of homelessness. Holistic assessment of a service user’s needs provides an opportunity for comprehensive support planning, which in turn will ensure that the service user’s full range of options are explored in terms of temporary and long-term accommodation with relevant supports.

Different temporary accommodation types currently available in Dublin include: temporary emergency accommodation (TEA), domestic violence refuges, supported temporary accommodation (STA), and long-term supported housing3.

Before (or immediately after) someone is placed in temporary accommodation for the first time, they should be assessed as to what is the most suitable accommodation for their needs at that time. For example, in terms of accommodation, there are a variety of service types in Dublin including: women-only accommodation, men-only accommodation, youth-only accommodation, low-threshold accommodation for active drug users, strictly alcohol and drug-free accommodation, and post-rehabilitation/step-down accommodation. It is important that a person accesses a service type that meets their particular needs and has the relevant on-site supports, if required. If a service user is in accommodation during this assessment, the process of identifying their needs may require them to be referred to a more suitable temporary accommodation, if a place is available.

One of the most important pathways out of homelessness is through the assistance of a local authority. Everyone who is homeless should register with their local authority, as it may be able to offer some assistance even if the person is not eligible for social housing.

It is important that the person registers with a local authority as soon as possible once they become homeless. As case manager, you need to ensure that the service user does this as a priority, in order to improve their longer-term housing opportunities.

Local authorities in Ireland are the main provider of social housing4 for people who need housing and cannot afford to buy their own homes. Local authority housing is allocated according to housing need, and rents are based on a person’s ability to pay. Each authority maintains a housing waiting list, which operates based on the rules and regulations laid down by that area’s elected council. Housing provided through housing associations is also allocated through the local authority waiting list. The rules governing the local authority social housing waiting list5 are also sometimes called the ‘scheme of letting priorities’. Different local authorities operate different schemes.

People who are accepted as homeless will be given homeless priority6. Generally, people can register on the housing list of more than one local authority, but normally they can only register as homeless with the local authority in the area where their last permanent address is located, and/or if they have significant ties with the area.

A long-term leasing scheme, the Social Housing Investment Programme (SHIP), which is funded by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, is in place. The programme will allow local authorities to source units of social housing, providing long-term housing options for people who are homeless.

Allied to SHIP is the Support to Live Independently (SLÍ) scheme, which provides housing support to households moving from homelessness into mainstream accommodation.

Local authorities and the Homeless Persons Unit (HPU) can also assist with housing information. Community welfare officers can provide rent deposits and/or rent supplement payments to assist people into private rented housing. Local authorities may also be able to offer tenancies secured via the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS).


3 A new portfolio of service types is planned under the Pathway to Home model. This new portfolio of services is described at the end of this section.

4 Social Housing is the term given to housing that is provided at a lower level of rent to people who have difficulty affording market rent levels. Rent in social housing is generally based on a means test of the household's income and will vary on the basis of how much the household can afford to pay.

 5The housing waiting list is the list of everyone who applied to a local authority for a social housing tenancy. Most housing waiting lists work on the basis of allocating points to people based on their needs, their household composition and the length of time they have been waiting. The households with the highest number of points are given first refusal on properties as they become available. The rules governing the housing waiting list are also sometimes called the ‘scheme of letting priorities’.

 6 Homeless priority is given to some households, if the local authority accepts a person as homeless (based on Section 2 of the Housing Act 1988). The term homeless list is sometimes used to describe the households on the general housing list that have been given homeless priority.