Focus Ireland Taoiseach must respond as figures from the charity show record total of 77 homeless families referred to its services in July
NEW FIGURES issued today by Focus Ireland show that a record monthly total of 77 homeless families were referred to its family services in Dublin in July. A total of 70 of the families had never been homeless before while seven families had previously been homeless.
Focus Ireland said the homeless crisis now seems to reach a new crisis point every month as its figures confirm that a total of 485 families became homeless and were referred to its family services in Dublin during the whole of last year. This 2014 total has already been almost equalled in the first 7 months of this year as Focus Ireland family services have had 466 families who are homeless referred to it.
Frontline staff at the Focus Ireland family team are supporting these families while they are homeless in emergency accommodation and the organisation works with DCC and DRHE to try to secure housing for them.
Focus Ireland said the homeless crisis can be solved if it is made a true priority by the Government. The charity said it is works in full partnership with the DRHE and DCC to move families out of homelessness into secure accommodation. However, with nearly 70 more families becoming homeless every month the housing is not being made available for them.
Focus Ireland has called on the Taoiseach to urgently respond in an effective way to help ease the spiralling crisis of family homelessness. The charity said that the family homeless crisis is getting out of control and must now be responded to as a national emergency by the Government.
The charity also called on the Taoiseach to finally accept that the Government’s policy to refuse to raise rent supplement has played a massive role in creating the current family homeless crisis. There are some welcome actions in place that are helping to keep some families in their homes but the charity stressed that only a joint action of bringing in rent certainly and raising rent supplement for the first time in 3 years will help to ease the growing crisis.
Focus Ireland stressed the Government is fully aware of the deepening crisis as it wrote to both Minister Alan Kelly and the Taoiseach in May calling for a Ministerial directive which would ensure no family assessed as homeless could be turned away without a bed for the night. Focus called on the Government to act so that the Ministerial Directive is part of a twin-track response which includes rent certainty and a rise in rent supplement payments.
The charity said it hasn’t even got a reply as yet from the Taoiseach except for a standard acknowledgement. It is not good enough and shows that this situation is not a priority for the Taoiseach.
The charity also said the crisis is spreading around the country with families struggling in emergency accommodation nationwide in counties including Cork, Limerick and Kilkenny due to the growing number of people becoming homeless. Focus Ireland warned that even these new figures don’t reflect the full scale of the crisis as many families who have been assessed as homeless have been refused emergency accommodation by hard pressed local authorities as it is all full.
Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said: “Focus Ireland and other organisations have repeatedly warned that the family homeless crisis is out of control and must now be treated as a national emergency. The Government needs to send a clear directive to all local authorities that where a family is assessed as homeless they must be found emergency accommodation for the night. The Government needs to fund the costs arising from this separately from the annual homelessness budget.”
Focus Ireland stressed it has being warning since last year that this is now a serious child welfare issue as over 1,300 children and their families are homeless nationwide – With over 1100 of these children in Dublin.
Mr. Allen said: “There are rightly very stringent laws to protect all children right across society but yet there are currently no laws in place to make sure some State body has 100% responsibility to ensure no children or families are forced to sleep on our streets. The Taoiseach said on Sunday that families having to stay in hotel rooms is unacceptable. The truth is that now some families can’t even get a hotel room for the night. The very idea that a number of children have had to sleep rough in our capital city is a disgrace and a failure by the Government.”
Focus Ireland said the organisation takes no pleasure in having warned 3 years ago that without action there would be a family homeless crisis. Focus Ireland’s Pre-budget Submission – submitted directly to the Government in 2012 – warned that many families were then at a dangerous tipping point between home and homelessness.
At that time in 2012, an average of 8 families were becoming homeless in Dublin each month. This has now shot up to an average of nearly 70 families presenting as homeless to Focus Ireland family services in Dublin every month so far this year.