Focus Ireland has put homelessness through the #10YearChallenge which shows that the number of families homeless in Dublin has shot up by over 420% in the last decade – from 249 families homeless* in 2008 to a shocking total of 1296 homeless at the end of 2018.

The #10YearChallenge is a worldwide trend on Facebook started in January 2019 in which people post one photograph from 10 years ago alongside a more recent photograph. However, some international campaigners have cleverly used the challenge to highlight the worsening of problems such as climate change in the last 10 years.  Focus Ireland is the first to use the #10yearchallenge to highlight the deepening homelessness crisis.  There are now nearly 10,000 people homeless in Ireland.

Focus Ireland Advocacy Manager Roughan Mac Namara said: “We used the number of families homeless in Dublin as it is the only number from 10 years ago which is directly comparable to the figure now. It really shows how successive governments have failed to get to grips with this issue when you take a longer term view.  There would have been a few hundred children homeless in 2008 now there are nearly 4,000 homeless nationally .”

He added: “There is a risk people can become desensitised to the depth of this crisis and we must always remember behind each single number is a child, a man or a woman who is homeless and who is suffering because of this.  The impact of not having a home hits people’s mental and physical health and is especially damaging to children as it stunts their development, education and wellbeing.”

Focus Ireland has called for immediate action by the Government to deliver more social housing, affordable rental and home ownership. The charity stressed that delivering more social housing will help reduce demand for private rented accommodation and ease rents.  The Government has continued the failed approach of previous Governments of a massive over reliance on use of private rented accommodation to meet social housing need.  Last year alone government targets set out in Rebuilding Ireland were that 77% of new social housing provision was to be met by securing accommodation in the rental market. We have not had final confirmation but a review of the data released by the Department of Housing for the first 3 quarters of 2018 suggests that they will not meet the Rebuilding Ireland build targets.

Mr Mac Namara said: “This is not just about trying to end homelessness.  The Irish Housing system is dysfunctional at present with people suffering from rocketing rents and a lack of security in the private rented sector while buying their own home is a distant dream for a growing number in our society.  The Government needs to take more action to help fix our broking housing system.  Delivering enough social housing the meet the needs is a key part of any healthy housing system and it will have the knock on impact of freeing up much accommodation in the rental market.

He added: There is some positive news as Focus Ireland has managed to help nearly 400 families to secure a home and leave homeless behind last year This has been achieved by the combined hard work of staff in Focus Ireland in partnership with the State and through the great support of our donors and supporters.  We also now provide 1,200 homes across the country.  This work shows it is possible to end homelessness but much more needs to be done next year.” However, Focus Ireland has constantly maintained that there will be no solution to the homeless crisis until the Government takes more serious measures to prevent families losing their homes.

Media Contact: Roughan Mac Namara   086 85 15 117

Editors Notes: Counted In 2008 reported a total of 249 families homeless in Dublin in 2008.

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