Focus Ireland Says New Govt Strategy Must Include urgent and radical Actions to Prevent Homelessness as number of people homeless rises to 8132

Charity calls for twin track approach to increase social housing & improve prevention

The number of people homeless has risen for the second month in a row as figures published by the Department of Housing show 8132 people homeless in July.  This is a rise of 118 from the 8014 homeless in June.

Focus Ireland said the Government’s long-waited new Housing For All strategy needs to take a twin track approach that will increase social housing provision and improve prevention. The strategy has been delayed since July and is now set to be discussed at Cabinet next Tuesday. 

Meanwhile, Focus Ireland said that regrettably many indicators are pointing to further increases in homelessness later this year as the private rental market constricts and the number of evictions rises.

Focus Ireland, Director of Advocacy, Mike Allen said: “We are hopeful that the Government strategy will include ambitious targets to deliver more social housing and this needs to be backed up by a clear implementation plan.  However, the strategy must also include immediate measures to better prevent families and individuals becoming homeless while the new social housing is being constructed.”

”All the indicators from our services across the country are that we will see a return to a pattern of rising homelessness in the next few months unless urgent and targeted action is taken.  It is possible to prevent the situation getting worse if action is taken swiftly as part of the first phases of the new strategy.”

Focus Ireland said the solid progress in reducing the number of people who are homeless by over 2,000 people during the pandemic shows what can be achieved through partnership and targeted prevention measures. Mr Allen said: “There’s been great progress, particularly in relation to the number of families homeless in the last 18 months. This was achieved through the very swift response to the pandemic with measures such as the temporary ban on all evictions. There was also an increase in housing stock in the private rental market and local authorities fast-tracked access to social housing.  Focus Ireland played our part in this by working very closely with the state which saw us help record numbers of families to exit homelessness and secure a home.”

He added: “However, the Government has decided not to continue many of the policies that were so effective in reducing the number of people becoming homeless – such as greater protections against evictions.  Our services across the country are reporting a wave of landlords taking advantage of rising house prices to sell-up and they are evicting their tenants as a result. Under our current legislation this is perfectly legal, but we are hearing from many tenants who are elderly, disabled or sick who are being evicted from homes they have lived in for many years, and are unable to find somewhere new to rent.”

”The fear of homelessness among these people who suddenly find themselves vulnerable is very great. This shows again that the underlying causes of the crisis have not been addressed and must be in the Government’s Housing for All strategy. “

The July figures report a total of 930 families with 2129 children homeless compared – a drop of 2 families from the 932 homeless in June.

Media contact – Roughan Mac Namara – 086 8515 117 

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