Focus Ireland Conference Calls For National Youth Homelessness Strategy as Number of 18-24 Year-olds Homeless Has Doubled in 5 Years

Focus Ireland said today that the Government has failed to take a number of specific actions required in Budget 2020 to help ease the homelessness crisis.

Focus Ireland said that it recognises the need for a prudent budget because of the uncertainty around Brexit.  However, the charity also stressed that Budget 2020 has failed to recognise the sheer scale of the existing crisis as the number of people homeless has shot up by 57%* since this Government’s first Budget in 2016. The number of children homeless has shockingly risen by 70%* in this same period.

Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said:

“We always knew this was going to be the Brexit Budget. However, we believe that while the Government has been rightly planning to lessen the potential impact of Brexit it has at the same time failed to recognise the sheer scale of the existing housing and homelessness crisis. The impressive deployment of resources and expertise to support business during a Brexit Crisis is in stark contrast to the Government’s response to the housing and homeless crisis. There are over 10,000 people in emergency homeless accommodation who would have loved to hear the Minister say that he ‘stands ready to do more if it is needed’ about their situation, instead we are offered a ‘steady as she goes’ budget on the housing and homeless crisis while the States capacity to respond is on display when it comes to the Brexit Crisis.

“The Minister also said that “No one group to be left behind” and extended his concern to Brexit, decarbonising and even independent bookmakers, but the Minister seems to have forgotten that over 10,000 people are being left behind when it comes to housing.”

Meanwhile, Budget 2020 also confirmed a housing allocation of  2.5bn (Already allocated under Rebuilding Ireland) 

Commenting on this Mike Allen said:

“Focus Ireland welcomes confirmation of the allocation of 2.5bn towards housing in Budget 2020 that was already announced in Rebuilding Ireland but the reality is that the Government is still failing to deliver enough social & affordable housing despite similar statements on the amount of money allocated towards housing in the last few years. In our pre-budget submission Focus Ireland called for very specific investment in the Land Development Agency to help drive the better use of State land to deliver more social housing & affordable rental accommodation than the Government is currently planning under this agency. “

“The establishment of the Land Development Agency (LDA) in 2019 was an important and welcome development. However, the stipulation that the LDA must produce only 10% social housing and 30% affordable housing means that the primary goal of the LDA, as defined by Government policy is to allow up to 60% of the homes to be built on state land to be un-affordable to the ordinary public. This defies logic in the middle of the worst housing and homelessness crisis in living memory and is not the best use of State land to provide for the housing needs of citizens. State land must be used more efficiently to deliver more homes for ordinary people and not used by developers to make profits.”

Budget 2020 also saw an increase of 20m in the homeless budget – up to 166m.

Mike Allen said:

“It is to be welcomed that much good work done to tackle and prevent homeliness by the likes of Focus Ireland and many others will continue under this increased allocation. However, it is vital to highlight that near on the majority of the homelessness budget is paid directly to private landlords & hotel owners to provide emergency accommodation which is sadly essential due to the lack of social housing.”

“(In 2018 approx. 45% of the homelessness budget in Dublin was spent on private providers of accommodation while this rose to 52% outside of Dublin for the rest of the country.)  The fact that the amount of money paid to private providers has once again increased in this budget really underlines to continued failure by Government to get to grips with this crisis.”

Focus Ireland welcomed news of an €29m increase for Tusla to help reduce the number of children without allocated social workers.  The charity said it was dismayed that there no mention of funding for additional child support staff for children who are homeless as Focus Ireland had called for in its own Budget submission.

Editors notes:

1)      *Number homeless in Aug 2016 was 6611 and this rose by 57% to 10,338 in Aug 2019.

2)      * 2263 children homeless in Aug 2016 which jumped by 70% to 3848 in Aug 2019

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