Focus Ireland said that the new figures issued today reporting a record total of 9,870 people homeless in February show that the Government is still failing to do enough to ease the crisis. The figures from the Department of the Environment also reveal that 3755 of the total number homeless are children (in 1739 families).

This number of children homeless has shot up by nearly 500 in one month alone since the January total of 3267.  This is the biggest ever monthly increase in the number of children homeless.  This means there has been a shocking increase of 48% in the number of children homeless in Ireland since this time last year.

Focus Ireland said the situation would be much worse without its work as the charity helped over 700 families to escape homelessness last year in partnership with the State.  However, these new figures show that the crisis continues to deepen despite the good work being done on the front line by state agencies and NGO’s.   Focus Ireland stressed that it strongly believes the continued deepening of the crisis is due to the Government repeatedly failing to tackle the deeper issues which are driving more and more people into homelessness.

Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said: “There has been an unacceptable 40% increase in family homelessness in Ireland in the last year and we believe that this shows that the Government strategy is failing to tackle the deepening crisis. What needs to be borne in mind is that these statistics represent individuals and families living in emergency accommodation at the moment.”  He added: “These figures clearly show that the Government Rebuilding Ireland strategy is failing to get to grips with the crisis.  Focus Ireland firmly believes that the Government must act to take the decisions it has shied away from for several years. This includes actively building social housing, taxing those who hoard building land and protecting the rights of tenants facing eviction.”

Meanwhile, Focus Ireland warned that one child became homeless every three hours last month as its own figures report that 102 families with 220 children became newly homeless in Dublin in January. Focus Ireland is the lead agency supporting these families through its family team services funded by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive.

Focus Ireland also challenged the Government’s repeated claims that it is doing all it can to tackle homelessness.  The housing charity said it could be doing more and criticised the Government for voting down the so-called Focus Ireland anti-homelessness amendment late last year ( FF abstained) which called for an end to evictions of tenants who are respecting their tenancies in buy-to-let properties being sold or repossessed.

Focus Ireland said if this amendment had been passed in Dec 2016 it would have prevented at least 300 families and over 700 children from becoming homeless since then.  The charity said the Government must stop trying to spin its way out of this crisis and take the action that it has the power to do in the morning and bring in this anti homelessness amendment.

Mr. Dennigan said: “The Governments logic for refusing to bring in the Focus Ireland Amendment is that it must balance tenants’ rights with property rights.  We strongly believe this holds no water. How can it be balancing rights when a family or individual paying their rent every week – with a tenancy – can be forced out on the street if the property is being sold or repossessed? It is not “balancing rights” it is clearly putting property rights ahead of the rights of tenants.”

He concluded: “I would still always highlight that here is much good work being done by the State, Local authorities and NGO’s such as Focus Ireland and without this the current crisis would be so much worse.  But more needs to be done to keep people in their homes and prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place.  The Government needs to move from managing rising homelessness towards ending it and must take the decisions required to do this.”

The latest figures can always be found here.

Media contact: Roughan Mac Namara: 086 85 15 117

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