FOCUS IRELAND SAYS MORE HOMES ARE REQUIRED TO END HOMELESSNESS CRISIS NOT MORE EMERGENCY BEDS
———–Charity makes its call as new figures show 184 people sleeping rough in Dublin & a record total of 8,492 people homeless nationwide——
Focus Ireland warned today that two new sets of figures announced by the Minister for Housing clearly show that the homeless crisis is continuing to deepen with less than five weeks to Christmas.
Figures issued today by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive* report that 184 people were found sleeping rough in Dublin on the night of Nov 7th.
Meanwhile, new Government figures showed the overall crisis continues to deepen as another new record total of 8,492 people homeless nationwide, a rise of 118 from the September 2017 figures of 8,374 men, women and children.
Focus Ireland welcomed the Minister’s announcement of a Cold Weather initiative for Dublin which will ensure that fewer people will have to sleep on the streets through the winter. However, the charity said the new figures clearly showing the crisis is deepening even further must act as a reality check for the Government.
Focus Ireland said the fact that every month seeing yet another new record total number of people homeless must be viewed as fundamentally wrong and unacceptable. The charity said more action is required to keep people in their homes not more spin to try and play down the extent of the crisis. The charity said there is good work being done as Focus Ireland manages to house one family a day in partnership with the State. However, the harsh – and inescapable – reality is that the very same day 2 to 3 more families lose their homes and become homeless.
Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said: “These extra beds will be welcomed by people who would otherwise be forced to sleep on the streets. However, it once again shows that the Government constantly reacting to the problem rather than taking more immediate action to solve it. The response we really need – an adequate supply of affordable housing – is coming so far down the track that it is hard to see when it will ever arise.
He added: “This is highly worrying coming in the same week a new report by Focus Ireland has clearly showed the terrible damage being homeless does to families and children in particular. (View report here https://goo.gl/SUFpZD ) These children are losing their childhoods now – Some housing targets further down the line are not going to make up for this. There is more the Government could be doing now such as bringing in legislation to end evictions from buy-to-let houses when they are sold or repossessed.”
Mr. Allen concluded: “This is the first year where we also need Cold Weather Strategies for Waterford, Limerick, Cork and Galway as we see a rise in rough sleeping across the country. More homes are urgently required to end the homelessness crisis – not more emergency beds.”
Focus Ireland is one of the lead organisations working to tackle rough sleeping, working in partnership with the Peter McVerry Trust to deliver the city’s Housing First programme. This includes an ‘Intake Team’ which is out on the streets every night engaging with people sleeping rough – or at risk – to get them off the streets and into an emergency bed.
The Housing First approach aims to get people off the streets and into a home as quickly as possible. Once housed the individual is provided with the intensive support that is often required by people who have been sleeping rough to help them sustain the tenancy. This approach has had a high success rate worldwide, but requires access to homes to work.
Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said: “The Dublin Housing First project is helping to end the nightmare of homelessness for many people as we have already provided permanent homes through 180 tenancies for people who were formerly rough sleeping. However, the crisis continues to deepen despite this great work due to the constant increase in the numbers of people losing their homes and becoming homeless every day and every month.”
He added: “It is really disappointing that despite the fact that the Government is talking about Housing First is the solution to rough sleeping while all the time opening more and more emergency beds. Year after year these are opened for the Cold Weather but remain open because of the failure to provide homes. There has been some great work done in partnership with DCC to get people off the streets and into homes but we need more action by the Government if we are to get access to the number of homes required to end the rough sleeping aspect of the crisis.”
Housing First project has to date created 180 tenancies for people were previously sleeping rough, more than exceeding the three year target of 100 which was set in 2014. The challenge faced by Focus Ireland and Peter McVerry Trust is to scale up to meet the new Rebuilding Ireland target of 300. For this we need the support of Government to provide the housing and overcome the acute lack of affordable housing that has hindered the project to date. Focus Ireland stressed that to achieve this target a mix of tenancies across various areas in Dublin are required and these could be ring-fenced to ensure delivery.
Mike Allen said: “It is vital to always remember that behind every one of these numbers we are talking about is a man or woman who is sleeping rough on the street or on the floor in a night café. This is wrong and totally unacceptable. While much good work is being done to prevent people from becoming homeless the constantly rocketing rents and a growing number of buy-to-let homes being either repossessed or sold is causing a constant rise in the numbers being forced into homelessness.”
You will always find the most recent figures here https://focusireland.ie/resource-hub/latest-figures-homelessness-ireland/
For Information Contact: Roughan Mac Namara – Ph: 086 85 15 117