Focus Ireland Launches New 5 Year Strategy Which Aims to Support 5,000 Households out of homelessness by 2025

Focus Ireland published its new 5-year Strategic Plan today which aims to support over 5,000 households out of homelessness by the end of 2025.

The charity will achieve this by delivering 1150 new homes in partnership with Local Authorities and other State agencies through a mix of direct build, buying and leasing.

Meanwhile, Focus Ireland services will also work in partnership with State agencies to support 4,000 families leave homelessness and into homes rented from local authorities, Approved Housing Bodies and private landlords.  You can watch a short video about our new strategy HERE  (All media has permission to use this video.)

The innovative strategy will guide Focus Ireland’s work to help deliver an essential shift away from managing the crisis and towards ending homelessness.  Prevention will play a key role in this shift as the organisation also aims to prevent 3,000 households from becoming homeless over the lifetime of its 5-year plan.

The charity’s strategy is titled “Restating our Vision 2021-25″ and outlines how Focus Ireland will be working to achieve its vision that everyone has a right to a place they can call home.

The strategy was officially launched by Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (with a video message due to Dail business ) as he said ‘The Strategy being launched today is an ambitious document and it recognises that although good progress has been made in recent times in tackling homelessness, more work needs to be done. It also recognises that bringing an end to homelessness, although an aspiration which may lie somewhere in the future, is something that all of us working in the sector should see as our goal”.

The charity has always affirmed that emergency shelters are not the answer and believes that everyone has a right to a place they can call their secure home. As Focus Ireland work is fundamentally concerned with people, the strategy is built around the household circumstances people live in and the charity will concentrate its resources in four key work streams.

The 4 strands of the Focus Ireland strategy (2021 – 2025) include:

  1. Support for families who are homeless or at risk and have complex support needs.
  2. Support for families who are homeless or at risk due to economic circumstances.
  3. Support for young people who are homeless or at risk and have complex support needs.
  4. Support for single adults who are homeless or at risk and have complex support needs.

Most people who become homeless just need an affordable, secure home and little bit of help, but experience indicates that around 10–25% of people becoming homeless have more complex needs and require additional support to find and sustain a new home.

Focus Ireland CEO, Pat Dennigan said, ‘By concentrating our support on the people who need us most we can have the greatest impact. Focus Ireland services will support our customers into different types of houses: homes rented from local authorities, from Approved Housing Bodies and, with the support of HAP, private landlords.  And all four work streams will be underpinned by Focus Housing Association, which will continue to provide homes for our existing over 1,100 tenants and aims to acquire a further 1,152 new homes over the lifetime of this strategy.’

Focus Ireland Founder and Life President Sr Stan said: “Focus Ireland have a very clear vision of what needs to be done by the government and all parties concerned in order to end this crisis. Our strategy is informed directly by the amazing work our staff does as we help to support families and individuals while they are homeless. This plan is consistent with what we have always set out to do and with our vision that everyone has a right to a place they can call home.”

Sr Stan added: “As we are still dealing with the Covid-19, Focus Ireland is working more closely than ever with the State and partner organisations to protect people who are homeless. We have helped to move record numbers of families and individuals out of homelessness in this period helping over 1100 households to secure a home in the last year.  Covid 19 must prove to be a turning point in the battle to end homelessness and we need to move on from short-term measures and hubs to provide more social and affordable rental housing. The work over the past year is an indication that homelessness can be alleviated and eventually defeated – if we set our minds to it.”

Pat Dennigan added: “It think is widely acknowledged that during the pandemic homeless services, local authorities and health services have worked more closely than ever before, and this has made a real difference. Additional protections to tenants in private rental accommodation introduced by Minister O’Brien have reduced family homelessness significantly. Perhaps less attention has been given to the crucial roles played by day services such as Focus Ireland’s Extension (day service for young people), the Coffee Shop and the Family Centre. Each of these services continued to provide human contact during a period of great isolation and distress, helping prevent new homelessness and supporting people to move out of homelessness.”

Since Focus Ireland was founded in 1985 there has always been the belief that there must be a clear plan in place to look beyond the need of a bed for the night and towards delivering permanent homes with supports when required.

Explaining the strategy’s approach Mr. Dennigan said: “This strategy is drafted at a very different time compared to a decade ago as our building industry is beginning to recover, and money is available for investment in house building. The number of homeless families has also begun to consistently fall for the first time. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought new challenges, but despite these – sometimes, because of these – we have an opportunity and an obligation to reset our vision. There is still a huge amount to do, but first, we must get out of the habit of ‘managing homelessness’ and stop seeing homelessness as ‘normal’. In this strategy, Focus Ireland and our housing arm, Focus Housing Association, want to re-assert our vision that, with the right mixture of policies, practices and priorities, homelessness can be ended.”

The full strategic plan can be read here

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