Focus Ireland Welcomes Homeless Plan Details But Says More Can Be Done To Deliver Housing

Focus Ireland welcomed the additional detail on the Government plan on homelessness presented at the relaunch today (September 22nd) but warned more needs to be done to halt the constant rise in the number of families becoming homeless.

Focus Ireland made this call as figures the charity issued last week revealed that 72 families became newly homeless in Dublin in August as the crisis deepens. These means that 671 families with 1257 children have become homeless in Dublin alone in just the first 8 months of this year – an average of 84 per month compared to just over 60 per month last year.

Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said: “It is positive news to hear again that up to 1,500 rapid build emergency accommodation units will be provided (or under construction ) by 2018 but we really need more action now to halt the constant rising numbers of families and individuals who are becoming homeless. We need to provide homes and not just better emergency accommodation.”

“The minister has repeatedly referred to tackling homelessness being like trying to empty the bath with the taps full on but there is very little in this plan to turn off the taps now.”

However, Focus Ireland particularly welcomed the detail provided on the tripling of the Housing First target in Dublin, the funding of supports to families and the new focus on care leavers but stressed more can be done to deliver housing.

Focus Ireland has outlined key measures which the Government can take in the coming Budget to fast-track delivery of housing so we can really start to tackle this terrible crisis to ensure that families – and individuals – who were made homeless in the crisis are not trapped in emergency accommodation for years.”

The measures Focus Ireland is calling for include Budget 2017 adopting the Housing Finance Agency’s proposal that it becomes the main source of lending to Local Authorities so they can more quickly secure funding to build housing.

Mr. Allen explained: “The current funding process is too slow and complex due to the Government policy of ensuring all such investment is “off the Government books”. This must change in Budget 2017 otherwise we are failing these families and children who are homeless. For years now we have been stuck in the deeply frustrating maze in which the Government keep insisting that money is no problem yet the Local Authorities tell us the systems are too complex for them to access the money to deliver homes which are urgently needed.”

Focus Ireland said that while its family team supports one family a day to move out of homelessness (in partnership with the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and Local Authorities) it’s impossible to keep pace as 3 more families become homeless that very same day. During August, Focus Ireland supported a record 33 families to move out homelessness, while 72 new families became homeless in Dublin.

Focus Ireland has also called for an end to the system where many families who are recognized as homeless by local authorities are told they must find their own emergency accommodation. The charity said the current system is not fit for purpose and has led to the situation where a number of children and their families are put at risk of sleeping rough as they can’t find emergency accommodation.

Media Contact: Roughan Mac Namara: 086 85 15 117

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