Focus Ireland Supported a Record Number of over 14,500 people in 2017
Annual Report shows Focus Ireland supported 1,065 households from homelessness into new homes.
Focus Ireland supported a record number of over 14,500 people last year who were homeless or at risk – the charity announced at its Annual Report 2017 launch in the IFI in Dublin. This is a rise of over 7% from the 13,500 helped by Focus Ireland in 2016.
Focus Ireland also reported that its housing wing, Focus Housing, had provided an additional 184 homes last year under its strategy target to provide 600 more homes by 2020 to help tackle the growing homelessness crisis.
Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said:
“I’m proud to say we have delivered 310 new homes over the last 2 years and are on the way to achieving our target of doubling our housing stock by 2020. By the end of 2017 Focus Ireland owned or managed a total of 981 homes for people who were homeless or at risk.”
The charity’s Annual Report 2017 was launched by its founder, Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy, and Alex McGrath, who was formerly homeless and secured a home with the help of Focus Ireland and Dublin City Council.
Sr. Stan said:
“We are in the middle of the worst homelessness crisis in living memory and it’s vital we speak about this and call for more to be done. However, it’s important to also speak about the success stories as these show homelessness can be ended. It also puts a human face to the dreadful figures. We must remember that we should not be distracted into squabbling about numbers. Of course we need reliable data but our main focus must always be the people and the solutions. How can we help to prevent them losing their homes or to find a new one?”
Meanwhile, Alex McGrath spoke about his journey from homelessness to home and outlined the help he received from Focus Ireland after his landlord increased his rent, and he became homeless.
“Focus Ireland staff work all hours to find people a bed, and then the following day they’ll be back working with the same men, women and children to find a permanent solution, and they do, just like they did with me when I lived in a hostel”, explained Alex.
Without Focus Ireland the terrible situation would be far worse. Before Focus Ireland came into my life I faced closed doors, now the only closed door I face is my own when get off the bus every evening. And I tell you it is great to have a home. I can plan for the future. Not just the day to day.”
Focus Ireland outlined some key achievements in 2017 including:
- Supported 1,065 households out of homelessness into secure homes.
- Over 300 people used its education services.
- Supported over 1,000 families who were homeless.
- Delivered 184 homes.
- Provided advice & information to 4,996 people nationwide. Read the full report here: ANNUAL REPORT 2017
Focus Ireland Life President & Founder Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy highlighted the financial & human cost of homelessness as she said:
“The financial cost of homelessness is enormous and growing. We need to be aware of it and we need to ensure the money is spent wisely, but it is not the most significant cost. The most significant cost is to the people involved and to the fabric of our society.
“How can we stand by while families who are homeless are forced to live in one hotel room for months at a time? There are still over 250 families who are left to source their own emergency accommodation, many struggling to find a hotel that will take them. There is nowhere safe for the children to play, do their homework or for families to cook a meal. The damage done to families and children will not just affect this generation but may have lifelong effects. It must not be allowed to continue.”
Focus Ireland recognised that there is welcome progress in many areas, but maintained that the Government is still failing to do enough to ease the crisis. In the year, May 2017 to May 2018 family homelessness has risen by 31% across Ireland from 1,312 families homeless in May 2017 to 1,724 in May 2018.
Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said:
“In recent months there has been a decline in the number of private rented/HAP properties on the market and in the number of social houses available. As a result people are finding it increasingly difficult to move out of homelessness. Focus Ireland is calling on the Government to take immediate action on three fronts.”
- Firstly to significantly increase the amount of housing which is being built by Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies. This will involve using the publicly owned landbanks available which are sufficient to build 30,000 homes in the place where they are needed.
- Secondly to introduce measures to prevent buy-to-let landlord from evicting tenants in order to sell up or move in family members.
- Thirdly to revisit proposals to make the thousands of vacant properties around the country available. It is clear that the current set of incentives has failed to open up this essential resource, and the Government must now move to penalise people who are leaving homes vacant for no good reason.
Media Contact: Alan Neary 086 468 04 42 or Roughan Mac Namara 086 85 15 117
The most recent figures (May 2018) show a record total of 9,846 people homeless with 3,826 of these children. All figures regarding homelessness (Present & previous) can be found at https://focusireland.ie/resource-hub/latest-figures-homelessness-ireland/