Focus Ireland Warns of Rising Crisis as Number of 18-24 Year-olds Homeless Shoots Up By 78% Since April 2014

Focus Ireland warned today of a deepening youth homelessness crisis as figures show the number of 18-24 year-olds has shot up by 78% in the last three years.

Figures from the Department of Housing reported that 776 young people were homeless and in emergency accommodation in the week of 20-26th February 2017. This was a 78% increase from the earliest figure available in April 2014 which was 436.

The most recent figures show that young people ages 18-24 now make up some 10% of the record number of 7,421 people who are currently homeless in Ireland.

Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said: “We know that young people aged 18-24 outside of families have really been hit hard by the reduced rate of social welfare available to them. When a young person falls into the nightmare that is homelessness, there’s always an underlying reason. Not getting accommodation or support upon leaving State Care, family problems, mental health challenges and/or purely economic pressures and unemployment.”

“It is wrong that young people are often left to fend for themselves in these situations. Focus Ireland- and others- are providing many vital services in cooperation with the State and Local Authorities but a lot more needs to be done as these young people are in danger of becoming the forgotten homeless if we don’t have more action.”

Focus Ireland said that it is already moving to address this rising problem through an innovative approach to target vulnerable people in the 18-24 age-group. The Focus Ireland service is called ‘Housing First for Youth’. This provides young people with housing as quickly as possible and then intensive and targeted, person-centred supports including healthcare, counselling, education, training, financial advice and more.

The charity said that the method has been tested and proven to work in North America and elsewhere in Europe and is much more effective than traditional ways of helping people in homelessness.

Mr Allen said: “We have already begun to trial it in Ireland, and the results are very positive. Our Housing First for Youth pilot scheme in Limerick has seen huge success- we’ve already set up to 40 young people in secure homes. Twelve of them are in secondary school, or third level education and 23 are in training or employment. A crucial factor in the success of the pilot has been the active collaboration of Limerick County Council, TUSLA and alongside the resources we can bring to this project.”

“The approach has also proven successful in Cork and we’ve expanded the scheme to North Tipperary, Dublin and Clare. If this kind of cooperation can be replicated elsewhere then we could transform this situation. Our plan now is to roll it out countrywide but this will take time and support.”

Meanwhile, Focus Ireland has launched a special Easter appeal as the charity has seen a continued increased demand for its services.

The charity’s appeal features Focus Ireland’s innovative Housing First for Young People service and explains how it is helping to change people’s lives. The appeal used the story of Paula (not her real name), a young woman who recently experienced a traumatic period of homelessness.

Paula said of her time homeless in sheltered accommodation and on the streets: “More than anything I wanted a future. I wanted control of my life. I was sick of life being something that happened to me, having no choices. Always running.”

Focus Ireland was able to secure a place for Paula through its Youth Housing First approach. Paula explained: “When I got in touch with Focus Ireland the staff were amazing. They’ve found me a temporary place to live and they’re going to help me to get a flat. I’m so excited! I can’t tell you how amazing it is to have a home and to not be on the streets anymore. One day soon I’m going to close my own door, lock it behind me and feel safe. I’m going to sit down, relax and start planning my next move. Looking for a job, doing a course, and starting a new life.”

Mr. Allen said: “A future is exactly what we at Focus Ireland want to offer young people like Paula. And we do this in a unique way: by giving them a home first so that they can solve their other problems. The traditional homelessness services can focus on providing food and emergency accommodation. While this is helping, we believe it is a short term answer and we need to move beyond this emergency response by ensuring people can secure a home as quickly as possible.”

People can donate to the Focus Ireland Easter appeal at   or phone 1850 204 205. A total of 89 cent of every euro Focus Ireland receives goes on services to combat and prevent homelessness.

Editors notes: The latest homeless figures are always available on our website

Media contact: Roughan MacNamara 086 85 15 117

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