Charity warns that homelessness is not just a Dublin problem as there are nearly 1,000 children homeless outside of the capital

Focus Ireland has today called for the Government to urgently review its policies to tackle the homelessness crisis as new figures published today reveal a total of 10,172 people officially homeless in June. This is a drop of 81 people from the total of 10,253 people who were officially homeless in May this year.

Focus Ireland said that any monthly drop in the numbers is good news as it means less families, children and individuals are suffering the trauma of being homeless. However, the overall trend is up as there has been a 28% rise in the number homeless in the last two years from 7941 in June 2017 to 10,172 last month.

Focus Ireland also noted that the official figures still show the clear impact of the Minister’s decision to exclude certain categories of families who are homeless from the official figures. The charity said that a number families who are homeless are still not being counted in the official figures. The most recent figures available (May 2019) show this total of such ‘uncounted’ families is continuing to increase in Dublin.

Focus Ireland said that while Rebuilding Ireland had many positive features and much good work had been done over the last 3 years, it was now time to take stock of what is working and what needs to be done differently.

In particular, a review should look at how children are being treated in the homeless crisis. The new figures issued by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government reveal that 3,675 of the total number homeless are children (in 1,686 families) and Focus Ireland’s own figures show that one child became homeless every 4 hours last month in the capital city. The Focus Ireland figures show 73 families with 163 children became newly homeless in Dublin in June.

The figures show there has been some welcome slight drops in recent months in the national figures. However the regional figures show some increases and that crisis which swept through Dublin three years ago is now established across the country in every town and city, with 953 children in 437 families now homeless outside of Dublin. A full review of three year experience of Rebuilding Ireland would allow the rest of the country to learn from the mistakes and the successes of the Dublin response.

Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said: “Policies such as rapid rehousing, Homeless HAP, linkages to local communities and the availability of child support workers have all worked well in Dublin. Reviewing these policies and applying them outside Dublin will not only help hundreds of families it will avoid wasteful use of resources”.

Mr. Allen added: “The commentary on Rebuilding Ireland concentrates exclusively on the things that have failed, but there are positive lessons to learn too. A review should look at both the successes and the things that need to change. Focus Ireland firmly believes that this balanced approach would allow the Government to take the decisions it has shied away from for several years. This includes actively building social housing, taxing those who hoard building land and better protecting the rights of tenants facing eviction. We also need the Government to set a cast-iron deadline that no family or individuals should be homeless for longer than six months and to put a specific family homelessness strategy in place to deal more effectively with this deepening crisis.”

He added: “We must always remember that although homelessness is a problem that can be solved it is wrecking lives and damaging over 10,000 people nationwide. There is real danger that human stories get lost behind the numbers – especially during the Summer months when the politicians are on holidays and people are enjoying the good weather. However, there is no holiday or break from the almost constant stress for the over 10,000 people who are homeless.”

Media Contact: Roughan Mac Namara – 086 85 15 117 or Conor Culkin – 086 468 0442

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