Focus Ireland warns crisis still deepening as new Govt figures report over 7,000 Homeless for the first time

The Homeless Report for December by the Department of Housing Planning Community and Local Government found that 7148 were homeless nationwide in the week of December 18th to 25th. Focus Ireland welcomed that the report found the number of families who are homeless did not rise in December.

Focus Ireland CEO Ashley Balbirnie said: “It is terrible to see over 7,000 people (including over 2,500 children) homeless for the first time on record. This is wrong and totally unacceptable. We worked to support over 230 families to move out of homelessness into secure homes (in partnership with the DRHE and local authorities) in the first ten months of last year. However, as these new figures show there is still much work to be done if we are to end this homeless crisis.”

Focus Ireland said that there is much good work being done to prevent families and single people from becoming homeless. However, the charity highlighted that rapidly increasing rents and a growing number of buy-to-let homes being either repossessed or sold is causing a continued rise in the numbers being forced into homelessness.

The charity said that while the Government has taken some positive action by introducing the rent pressure zones to try and ease rent inflation it is unclear if this will be enough. Focus Ireland also highlighted that the Government missed an opportunity to take a big step to prevent many people from becoming homeless. At the end of last year the government voted down an anti-homeless amendment the charity had proposed for the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Bill 2016.

This amendment was submitted and supported by a number of TD’s it called on the Government to change the law to protect tenants in buy-to-let properties. The so called ‘Focus Ireland amendment’ sought to stop banks – and other financial institutions- from being able to repossess buy-to-let homes and evict the tenants. It also would have well stopped landlords from evicting to sell with vacant possession.

Mr. Balbirnie said: “We welcomed the Government’s “Tyrrelstown Amendment’ which provides that landlords seeking to sell 10 or more properties over a six month period cannot evict a sitting Part 4 tenant to sell with vacant possession. However, our staff report that most of the evictions from buy-to-let tenancies are by landlords with 1 or 2 properties. As our amendment was voted down this has left many people at risk and more people becoming homeless. We will continue to challenge the Government on this issue and seek the action required to protect people in their homes.”

Contact: Roughan Mac Namara – 086 85 15 117

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