Focus Ireland Annual Report 2015 Shows Charity Supported over 12,500 people last year
The Annual Report was launched by Minister for Housing Simon Coveney at the charity’s newly redeveloped housing in Stanhope Green in Dublin which provides 71 housing units for people who were previously homeless.
The Chairperson of Focus Ireland, Gerry Danaher announced a decision by the Focus Ireland Board which will see the charity provide 600 more homes by 2019 to help tackle the growing homeless crisis. Focus Ireland aims to deliver 150 homes a year over the next four years – to double its current housing stock.
Gerry Danaher said: “We all know that affordable housing supply is at the heart of the homeless crisis that blights the lives of so many. Focus Ireland has repeatedly called on the Minister and his predecessors to take the necessary action to tackle this crisis. But we also know we have our own important role to play in this and our plan to double our housing stock over the next four years which is proof of our commitment.”
Meanwhile, Focus Ireland acknowledged the Minister’s commitment and energy, and repeated its broad welcome for the Government’s Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, Rebuilding Ireland. However, Focus Ireland warned that in relation to family homelessness there were a number of areas where more detailed proposals were needed before the plan were fully credible.
Mr. Danaher said: “At present, the only firm commitment in the Action Plan to these families is to eliminate the use of hotel rooms and provide better emergency accommodation though ‘rapid build’ housing, and to provide better supports to them while they remain homeless. This is welcome but even the best emergency accommodation is not a home.”
“There is little in the Action plan which will cut the numbers of families losing their homes or help others secure a home. Focus Ireland and the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive are supporting more families out of homelessness than ever before, but we cannot keep pace with the deepening crisis as 90 families have become homeless every month so far this year, compared with 60 a month last year.”
He added: “A second issue is that every night the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and Focus Ireland struggle to ensure that every family has somewhere safe to stay, and it is not uncommon for us to still be seeking beds for ten or more families late into the evening. Frequently we are still seeking rooms for some of these families as midnight approaches. The Action Plan is essentially silent on this crucial issue. The risk of children being forced to sleep rough with their families for want of an emergency bed is now an every night reality.”
Also speaking at the event, Focus Ireland founder Sr. Stan added that the response to homelessness was still based on legislation drafted in back 1988 when homelessness essentially involved adult single men. She said: “It must be clear to everyone that the risks we are dealing with now are completely different because hundreds of children are involved. Everyone is trying hard to make the outdated system work but services across the country desperately need leadership from Government to update the rules to reflect the new reality.”
Sr. Stan called on the Government to urgently issue a national directive to ensure that no family can be left without an offer of emergency accommodation or put at risk of having to sleeping rough. She said: “If this situation is not addressed immediately I fear we will see families with children being forced to spend a night on our streets.”
Focus Ireland welcomed the fact that the Minister had recognised that some areas of the Action Plan needed further development and looks forward to working with the Minister to address these urgent challenges. The Minister was also officially re-opening Stanhope Green following an extensive redevelopment of the housing units which were first opened in 1991.
View the Annual Report here — focusireland-old.gdlindev.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Focus-Ireland-Annual-Report-2015.pdf
Media contact: Roughan Mac Namara – Ph: 086 85 15 117 or Michelle Moran 086 468 04 42