Focus Ireland calls for twin track approach by Govt to deal with the expected deepening crisis in coming months due to lifting of eviction ban as new figures show a record high of 11,988 people homeless
Charity calls for greater allocation of housing to the most vulnerable in society
Figures published by the Department of Housing today show the number of people officially homeless in March was a record 11,988. The figures show a significant rise of 246 people in one month compared to the 11,742 homeless in February this year. The figures are a 22% increase on March of 2022 with a 32% rise in family homelessness in just one year.
The charity stressed that as these are the March figures, they do not yet reflect the impact of the lifting of the eviction ban on April 1st. Focus Ireland warned that the real impact of lifting the eviction ban is yet to be felt. Ending the ban is causing widespread fear in the rental sector for all the people facing eviction and many others who are not yet at risk.
The charity has called for the Government to take a twin-track approach of increasing housing allocation to the most vulnerable while also increasing supply to help deal with the expected deepening crisis in the coming months.
Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said: “We are getting calls and emails every day from people who are facing no fault eviction and homelessness. They are terrified and I really do not think the Government has spoken to people in this situation as if they had they would not have lifted the ban. One retired civil servant contacted us for help as she is facing eviction and terrified. We are working to support her, and she is just one of the many people contacting us. How can this be allowed to happen in our society? It is disgraceful and sadly we will see more of it.”
Mr. Dennigan stressed that it is vital to “remind ourselves that homelessness is both solvable and preventable.” as he said: “Homelessness is not acceptable or normal. It is a result of a decade of poor policies. However, by quickly implementing improved measures and working in partnership to deliver solutions we can put an end to it over time. We must do this as far too many children, families, and individuals are experiencing the trauma of homelessness.”
Importance of supply
Focus Ireland said that increasing supply, particularly for the most vulnerable, will make a significant impact and the government must ramp up the progress that has been made in this area.
Mr. Dennigan explained: “Our goal should be to build or renovate enough housing to provide homes for everyone who needs them. However, as we work towards achieving this, we can address homelessness by creating a fairer system. Unfortunately, the most vulnerable members of our society bear the heaviest burden, and many of them have been struggling for a prolonged period in emergency accommodation.”
“Last year, approximately 6,500 new social homes were constructed, and if we had ring-fenced just 500 of them, we could have ensured that no family would experience homelessness for longer than 18 months. The government plans to build over 9,000 homes next year, which would enable us to eliminate long-term homelessness, and it is crucial that this plan is successfully implemented.”
Focus Ireland believes that the Government measures taken to try to offset the impact of ending the eviction ban do not go far enough and a lot more needs to be done. However, the charity stressed that it playing its part in working to make the government’s measures as effective as possible.
Mr. Dennigan said: “We are currently working on 100 cases through the Government “tenant in situ” scheme to allow these people to retain their homes. But we know there are hundreds of households which fall outside the net, and nothing came be done to keep them in their rental homes – This includes 1,200 cases where the landlord/or a family member is moving into the rental property, so the tenants are to be evicted.”
The March 2023 figures reported 1,639 families (up by 40 families on the previous month) with 3, 472 children homeless (a rise of 99 since February 2023).
Media Information: Roughan Mac Namara – 086 85 15 117 or Conor Culkin – 086 468 0442