FOCUS IRELAND WELCOMES 2% DROP IN NUMBERS HOMELESS BUT WARNS THERE’S BEEN 14% RISE IN THE LAST YEAR
Focus Ireland has said that it is positive news that new Government figures issued today for December 2018 show a 2% drop in the number of people homeless in Ireland .
However, the charity warned that the long-term trend shows a continued deepening of the crisis as the number of people homeless has shot up by 14% in the last year. The figures jumped from 8,587 in Dec 2017 to 9,753 in Dec 2018.
Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said:
“Any monthly drop in the numbers is good news as it means less families and children suffering the trauma of being homeless. However, while we don’t want to be negative, we do have to be realistic and the figures clearly show that there was a 14% rise in the number of people homeless last year. Last year was the worst year ever for homelessness as more men, women and children were homelessness and more of them were homeless for longer than ever before. It is also heart-breaking to think that the number of children homeless has gone up by 16% in the last year.”
Focus Ireland said that each year there is normally a seasonal drop in the number of people who are homeless in December and then a spike in the numbers in the January or February figures. This is due to a number of reasons such as extended family taking in people over Christmas but the situation is not sustainable and the families return to homeless accommodation after a short period. The charity said it regrettably expects to see a return to the rising pattern in January & February.
Mr. Dennigan 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 better protecting the rights of tenants facing eviction. We also need the Government to set a cast-iron deadline that no family or individuals should be homeless for longer than six months and to put a specific family homelessness strategy in place to deal more effectively with this deepening crisis.
“There was positive news as Focus Ireland has managed to help over 400 families to secure a home and leave homelessness behind last year. This was achieved by the combined hard work of staff in Focus Ireland in partnership with the State and through the great support of our donors and supporters. We also now provide nearly 1,200 homes across the country. This work shows it is possible to end homelessness but much more needs to be done this year.”
Meanwhile, Focus Ireland said that its own figures for the numbers of families becoming newly homeless each month in Dublin showed a similar pattern – as 50 families became newly homeless in Dublin in December compared to 96 in November. However, while the figure of 50 families becoming homeless was the lowest in recent months, it is still the second highest December figure ever recorded.
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Across Ireland 2018 proved to be an even more difficult year for those experiencing homelessness. While a significant number of individuals and families were supported to move on from homelessness, there were a number of challenges that has meant homelessness increased again last year to new record highs. These have included:
- A reduction in allocations by some Local Authorities.
• The continuing housing crisis has led to increasing tightening of the private rental market. This has made it even more difficult to secure rental accommodation for people to move on from homelessness.
• The number of families entering homelessness increased. In the Dublin Region where we have had the most comprehensive data, the number of families entering homelessness has shown to have increased for the 6th year in a row.
• While the majority of those in emergency accommodation are in the Dublin Region (67%), 2018 has seen homelessness and in particular family homelessness in the rest of Ireland grow to unprecedented levels.