Focus Ireland 2020 Annual Report shows the charity helped a record of 1,829 households avoid or leave homelessness
Charity calls on Government to set out annual targets on the pathway to eradicating homelessness by 2030
Focus Ireland helped a record number of 1,829 households to avoid homelessness or find a secure home – the charity announced at its 2020 Annual Report launch. Over 1,359 households were supported to settle into a new home or assisted on a pathway towards sustaining an exit out of homelessness and a further 470 households were supported in keeping their homes. Focus Ireland also ensured 880 families were supported out of homelessness and nearly 3,300 children were supported across our services.
Speaking at the launch from Wynn’s Hotel, Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said: “I am proud that in 2020, despite the challenges that the pandemic presented we were able to support a record number of households to avert a risk of homelessness or move to a new secure home. One of the remarkable features of the response to the pandemic was the renewed sense of collaboration and teamwork between NGOs, local authorities and health services. Solutions were found for previously intractable problems; red tape was cut and access to housing and safer emergency accommodation was fast-tracked. Together we ensured that fewer people who were homeless in Dublin suffered fewer deaths from COVID-19 than in almost any other major city. This renewed sense of partnership and trust are aspects that we need to retain, learn from and build on as we work together in the future with the shared goal of making homelessness a thing of the past.”
He added: “In the run up to the 2020 General Election, Focus Ireland highlighted the policies and priorities that are needed. We were very pleased to see many of our key election asks around the development of National Youth Homelessness Strategy, a referendum on a constitutional right to housing and the establishment of a housing commission included in the Programme for Government and further committed to in the new Housing for All strategy that was launched last month. Homelessness and the housing crisis were the one of the main issues that voters wanted tackled by the new Government and our work made sure that the difficulties experienced by those at risk of and experiencing homelessness was not lost once the Covid crisis began. We hope that our campaigns over the last 18 months and our high-quality research, have all contributed to a better understanding of the solutions to homelessness among public representatives – and to more effective policies.”
Focus Ireland outlined some key achievements in 2020 including:
- Over 1,359 households supported to settle into a new home or supported on a pathway towards sustaining an exit
- Over 470 households supported to keep their homes
- 12,300 people engaged with Focus Ireland services
- 430 young people supported by Focus Ireland youth and aftercare services
- 275 adults supported though Focus Ireland’s Preparation for Education Training and Employment programme
- Over 6,800 people provided with advice & information.
Speaking at the launch of the Annual Report, Focus Ireland Life President & Founder Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy sent a strong message to the current government.
“It was very positive to see the new Government strategy Housing For All include a commitment to end homelessness by 2030. Focus Ireland has called for this for many years as it has been proven that any country that has made real inroads into tackling homelessness has such a commitment to work towards ending it. While Focus Ireland works in close collaboration with the Government in delivering homes, we must also acknowledge the previous policy by successive governments has been far too market-driven and the market never has and never will eliminate homelessness or provide homes for the people who can’t afford to buy.”
“The new Government strategy must deliver change from the approach if it is to succeed. We need to move from managing the housing and homelessness crisis towards ending it. A target at the end of the decade is very welcome but the Government now needs to set out annual targets for reducing homelessness, so that we see the impact of the Government’s commitment and redouble our efforts if we are not making the progress needed. To reach that goal we need to be actively building more social housing, taxing those who hoard building land and better protecting the rights of tenants facing eviction. There is much more still to be done across these areas as the State must take a far stronger role if we are to fix our broken housing system. The delivery of social housing continues to rely heavily on acquisitions and leasing with a consistently low level of new building. This is true of social housing delivered by both local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies. A whole-of-government approach, with a dedicated Delivery Unit devoted to the coordination of built-for-purpose social homes by the State, is required.”
Khaled Gsis lived in emergency accommodation for four years with his wife and four children before they finally found a home.
“In Summer 2020, our suffering and hardship came to an end. We were housed by Focus Ireland in a lovely house in a nice area. Finally, we started enjoying life. Thanks to Focus Ireland the children got their confidence back and the family said farewell to the uncertainty and insecurity. We now have a secure home and are enjoying comfortable living, which has made such a difference to my family and myself” he said.
Annual report available from Focusireland.ie from 10am. If you need a copy sent beforehand please email firstname.lastname@example.org .