Focus Ireland launches its pre-budget submission and says the Govt. must not yet again fail homeless families on budget day.
The charity made the claim as it launched its Pre-Budget Submission as its figures show a record total of 83 families became homeless in August in Dublin.
There are now over 700 families homeless with 1,500 children – stuck in emergency accommodation nationwide. The number of families who are homeless has shot up by a staggering 84% from 385 families in Aug 2014 to 707 families at the end of Aug this year.
Focus Ireland said that Budget Day is a significant annual event in terms of addressing homelessness.
The charity said this Government has failed families who are homeless time and time again on Budget Day in recent years and must not repeat this mistake.
Focus Ireland said that it warned this Government in 2012 in its Pre-Budget Submission that many families were at a tipping point between home and homelessness (because rent supplement payments were not matching rising rents).
At this time in 2012, eight families a month were becoming homeless in Dublin. This monthly total has now shot up tenfold with 83 families becoming homeless in Dublin in August. Sadly the same problem is now developing around the country in cities such as Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Kilkenny.
Focus Ireland said if the Government had paid heed to its calls on Budget Day 2012 the number of families who are now homeless would be much lower and manageable.
The charity said its family services are working hard to support the families who are homeless but the staggering increase in numbers means it has to operate a waiting list for families seeking support.
Focus Ireland said responses to the deepening crisis must now move beyond NGO’s highlighting the issues and the Government listing off the actions it has taken.
Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said: “Everyone agrees that there is a real emergency situation in homelessness. The Government has taken some actions that have helped to prevent some families becoming homeless and this is really good news. However, the constant rise in the number of people losing their homes every month and the human stories behind these increasing figures tell us that not enough is being done.”
He added: “In the interest of the 1,500 children who are homeless the whole of Government must now move away from defending its record on this issue and accept that some of its policy decisions are directly forcing people into homelessness. If the Government is serious about ending this crisis they must all work together to deliver on rent certainty, to raise rent supplement to meet market rents and to also bring in tax changes for residential landlords who rent to social tenants.
“Minister Alan Kelly is making many of these proposals yet it is reported that Fine Gael are opposing them or at the very least trying to water them down to make them meaningless. Focus Ireland believes the time for political debate is over and the whole of Government must get behind these urgently required actions.”
Focus Ireland said there is rightly a lot of attention and focus on the emergency situation in homelessness but we must not lose sight of the fact that to tackle any emergency you must do all you can to cut the numbers who end up in that situation. Cutting the numbers becoming homeless every month would take massive pressure off a homeless services emergency accommodation system that is close to breaking point. It would also free up resources which could be directed to increase prevention measures which is key to ending homelessness.
ACTIONS THAT CAN BE MADE ON BUDGET DAY TO EASE THE CRISIS
Raise rent supplement rates to match market rents to keep families in their homes and cut the record number of households becoming homeless every month.
Deliver rent certainty for tenants and take action in the Budget to bring in tax changes for residential landlords (including bringing their tax liability in line with commercial landlords) as any system must work for landlords and tenants alike.
LONGER TERM SOLUTIONS TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO HOUSING
Focus Ireland is seeking a commitment to the provision a minimum average of 7,000 new social housing units a year over the 5 year term of the next government.
Focus Ireland acknowledge that in this area the Government has published and is committed to implementing the Social Housing Strategy 2020 with an ‘upfront exchequer commitment’ of €1.5 billion but we now need to see bricks and mortar being delivered from that strategy.
Focus Ireland’s Pre-Budget Submission was issued to the media today and has already been submitted to the Government and key departments in recent months. The full submission can be viewed here http://bit.ly/1OVkx3D
Media Enquiries to Michelle Moran 086 468 0442 / 01 881 5964 or Roughan McNamara 01 881 59 00 / 086 85 15 117