Focus Ireland called on the Government to clear up the latest confusion around the official number of people who are homeless as new figures issued today report that an unspecified ‘recategorisation’ there are now 9,527 people homeless.

Focus Ireland called on the Government to clear up the latest confusion around the official number of people who are homeless as new figures issued today report that an unspecified ‘recategorisation’  there are now 9,527 people homeless.

The absence of details suggests that the reported drop of 364 from the number homeless in July appears to be largely due to yet another re-categorisation of who is homeless. The charity said Minister’s actions are fuelling the ongoing squabbling about the numbers which distracts attention from the action that needs to be taken to end homelessness.

Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said : ““There is no other area of national statistics where this level of confusion would be tolerated. The inability of the Government to produce reliable and clear figures on the number of people who are homeless does not inspire confidence. We need to always remember that behind every statics and number is a person or family that needs a place to call home.” Focus Ireland repeated its call for the CSO to take on processing the homelessness statistics.

He added: “We know that it is possible to end homelessness as Focus Ireland – in partnership with the State – helps an average of two families every day to secure a home. However, the shocking fact is that up to four families become homeless that very same day so the crisis deepens. We need decisive action in the coming Budget early next month to help end the family homelessness crisis.”

Focus Ireland is the lead agency supporting families who are homeless in Dublin and is funded by the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive for this work. The charity said that its experience shows that a family who has a support worker in place moves out of homelessness 4 times more quickly than if they have no support in place. However, new figures from Focus Ireland show that more than 250 families homeless in Dublin still do not have a support worker. Focus Ireland has called on the Government to take firm action in the Budget to allocate €500,000 to pay for an additional 10 support workers to ensure that every homeless family has a support worker and so help increase the number of families leaving homelessness each month.

Focus Ireland has also called for more action to prevent families and individuals from becoming homeless in the first place. Mr. Dennigan said: “The main reason families and individuals are becoming homeless is that they are being evicted from losing their homes by private landlords due to properties being sold or repossessed. The only solution to this crisis is that, as a society, we must do more to keep families in their existing homes so they never become homeless in the first place.”

“Measures to prevent people becoming homeless must be further prioritised. The evidence from Focus Ireland’s own prevention work shows that it is effective. In 2017 Focus Ireland supported 614 households on the brink of becoming homeless to avoid homelessness. This work involved case management support (321 households); tenancy sustainment (208 households) and youth housing (85 households). The current trend of numerous evictions resulting in the State responding by placing people in hotels or hubs is not sustainable. It is failing as not enough families are being rehoused. This does not take away from the very real successes; such as we helped over 1,000 households to secure a home and move on from homeless last year in partnership with the State.”

Focus Ireland also called on the Government to give greater protection to tenants of buy-to-let landlords by introducing new legislation. The so called ‘Focus Ireland’ amendment sets out a well-considered model for achieving this. Focus Ireland drafted an amendment to the Planning & Development Bill which was considered in the Dáil in December 2016. If it had been passed then it would have prevented well over 350 families – and many individuals from becoming homeless since then. (Buy-to-let homes would have to be sold or repossessed with tenants in situ as is the case for commercial properties).

Media Contacts: Roughan Mac Namara (0868515117) or Alan Neary (0864680442).

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