24 August 2022
Focus Ireland Calls for Emergency Response by Government as Numbers Homeless Hits a Record High
- Charity says Govt Can Take Some Immediate Actions to Ease Deepening Crisis
- Focus Ireland warns homelessness is causing great trauma to 3,137 children
Figures published by the Department of Housing today show the number of people who are officially homeless has reached a record high of 10,568 people. This is an increase of 76 since the June figure of 10,492 and a shocking 30% increase from only a year ago (8,132 in July 2021). Focus Ireland said that rising homelessness is not inevitable, and that there are some actions the Government could take immediately to curb the rising numbers of people becoming homeless every month.
Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said: “Just over a year ago in May 2021 we were welcoming a 5-year low in homelessness and today we are back up to the highest level ever. Actions during the pandemic reduce homelessness by over 2,000 people, so we know what can be achieved by us all in partnership when the Government deals with the issue with leadership and real urgency. The real number of people who have no home is no doubt considerably higher as local authorities across the country are reporting that every emergency bed is full, and people are being asked to stay temporarily in unsuitable circumstances while new shelters are being commissioned. This hidden homelessness is also at record levels.
Mr Dennigan adds: “The record levels of people homeless today must be seen in the context of RTB figures which show that 2,798 households received Notices to Quit from landlords in the first 6 months of the year alone. In 1,709 cases the reason for eviction was the decision of the landlord to sell. Not all these households will need homeless services, and we will be working to help people find alternative homes but it is hard to see emergency homeless services being able to cope with the number of people that will need our support. This scale of escalating crisis needs a proportionate scale of emergency response.”
“The long-term solution is to build more homes more quickly and the Government must accelerate that, but over 3,137 children who are homeless do not have time to wait. Their childhoods are being stolen as homelessness is causing them terrible trauma. The Government must take a mix of urgent short-term and long-term actions as what is currently being done is not enough.”
Speaking about keeping landlords in the market Mr Dennigan said: “The Government must introduce a number of measures to convince landlords that it is in their interest not to evict their tenants to sell, at least over the next 6 years while new housing is coming on stream. This should include short-term tax relief, measures to make it more attractive to sell with the tenant in situ and a ramped-up scheme for local authorities to purchase homes with vulnerable tenants in place. While this package of measures is being put in place, the Government should introduce an immediate pause in the Notice of Terminations which have already been issued to avert the scale of evictions currently envisaged.
“Recent changes in RTB legislation means that the Government now has an early warning system where it is able to see the number of eviction notices being issued several months before the tenants must actually leave their home. That warning system is flashing bright red and the Government must take heed and take emergency measures proportionate to the scale of the crisis that is coming our way.”
Focus Ireland emphasized that keeping landlords in the market, while essential, is only a short-term measure. It is essential that the state accelerate the building of new social and affordable homes and clamp down on dereliction, vacancy and hoarding of serviced land with planning permission.
The July figures also report a total of 1,423 families with 3,137 children homeless.
086 468 0442