FOCUS IRELAND SAYS BUDGET DECISIONS ON TUESDAY WILL SHOW IF THE CABINET FULLY BACKS HOUSING MINISTER EFFORTS TO END HOMELESSNESS CRISIS
Focus Ireland warned today that the homelessness crisis will continue to deepen unless Tuesday’s Budget 2018 includes a number of specific actions to help cut the constant flow of families and individuals becoming homeless.
The Budget takes place on World Homelessness Day on Tuesday and the charity has outlined 10 actions required to help turn the tide on homelessness. Focus Ireland said these actions must be taken to help ease the crisis as a record number of 8,270 people – including over 3,000 children – are now homeless.
The charity highlighted one action it is calling for that is required to end the risk of families with children having to sleep rough. Focus Ireland’s Pre-Budget Submission calls for an end to the system where many families who are recognised as homeless by local authorities are told they must find their own emergency accommodation (which are then paid for by the Local Authority).
The charity said the current system, known as ‘self-accommodation’, is not fit for purpose and has led to huge stress on families and on a few occasions where families with children are put at risk of sleeping rough as they can’t find emergency accommodation.
Focus Ireland argues that where a family is assessed as homeless, it is the local authorities’ responsibility to find emergency accommodation for them, and that central government must provide them with resources to do so. The charity has called for Budget 2018 to ring-fence funding required to help end the practise of “self-accommodation” for families who are homeless.
The charity works hard with the Dublin Region Homeless Executive and four Dublin Local Authorities to successfully place the vast majority of families in emergency accommodation, but Focus Ireland said the Government must provide more resources as the crisis is deepening.
Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said: “The practice of expecting families in crisis to find their own emergency accommodation causes untold stress and misery for hundreds of families and their children. Budget 2018 can provide local authority with the funds to end this miserable, inhuman practice.
“A lot of the policies needed to tackle homelessness are long-term and complex, but we shouldn’t forget that decisions in Budget 2018 can really help to turn the tide of the homelessness crisis, and make an immediate impact on people’s lives. There is much good work being done without which the crisis would be much worse. We need to build on this good work and the Budget decisions taken will give a clear indication of whether the entire Cabinet is willing to back the new Housing Minister in his efforts to tackle the growing crisis. The Government has said on a number of occasions that homelessness is a number one priority. The Cabinet now needs to put real money behind promises they have made.”
The measures Focus Ireland is calling for also include Budget 2018 adopting the Housing Finance Agency’s proposal that it becomes the main source of lending to Local Authorities so they can more quickly secure funding to build housing.
Another of the ten key recommendations in the charity’s submission is a call for greater investment in domestic violence services to help tackle and prevent homelessness. Focus Ireland said domestic violence services have suffered 17% cuts since 2012 and the funding should now be returned to at least pre-2012 levels. The organisation is also seeking additional funds for child support workers to assist the children in families which are living in emergency homeless accommodation for longer and longer periods.
You can read Focus Ireland’s 10 actions “To Help Turn The Tide Of Homelessness” here
Media contacts: Roughan MacNamara: 0868515117 or Alan Neary: 0864680442.