Focus Ireland welcomes news of five sites identified for location of up to 153 modularhouses for families who are homeless
Focus Ireland has welcomed news that five sites have been identified for the location of up to 153 modular houses to provide emergency accommodation for families who are homeless.
However, the charity also warned that the Government must take action to stop the constant rise in numbers of families and individuals losing their homes every month to prevent the current homeless crisis from spiralling further out of control.
The sites for the modular housing, details of which will be presented to Dublin City Council this evening, will be located in Poppintree in Ballymun, Mourne Road in Crumlin, Belcamp Avenue in Coolock, St Helena’s drive in Finglas and Cherry Orchard in Ballyfermot.
Focus Ireland has recommended that the allocation of the new emergency accommodation should be based on ensuring that families are able to keep their children in the local schools they have been attending since before they lost their homes.
Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said: ‘School is one of the few elements of security in the lives of these children when their family become homeless, and that is why parents have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep their children in the same school, even if this means crossing town each morning. Allocation of the new emergency units should recognise the fundamental reality for families.”
Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said: “There is rightly a lot of attention and focus on the emergency situation in homelessness and it is positive these five sites for modular housing have been earmarked and we’d call for all members of Dublin City Council to fully support the fast-track delivery of this much needed emergency accommodation.”
He said: “However, we must not lose sight of the fact that to tackle the emergency situation in homelessness the Government must do all it can to cut the numbers who end up in that situation. The current pace of Government response, while welcome, is totally out of proportion to the scale of the problem that we are facing. More urgent action to cut the numbers becoming homeless every month would take massive pressure off a homeless services emergency accommodation system that is close to breaking point. It would also free up resources which could be directed to increase prevention measures which is key to ending homelessness.”
Focus Ireland said that the vast majority of the over 730 families and 1,500 children who are homeless in emergency accommodation nationwide have lost their homes due to rising rents and rent supplement payments which are far too low to help many households to be able to keep a roof over their heads. Focus Ireland is the agency that has been appointed by the four local authorities to support families who are homeless in Dublin.
The charity’s family team support families who have been accessed as homeless and does manage to secure housing for up to 20 families a month in partnership with the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive, local authorities and other NGO’s. However, with 70 to 80 families becoming homeless in Dublin alone every month it is clear that the scale of the response and action by the State is falling far short of what is required to stop this emergency situation from spiralling further out of control.”
Mr. Allen said: “We must always remember that the over 730 families and a further 2,500 individuals who are homeless have not just appeared out of thin air. They have all come from homes which they have sadly lost. A lot more needs to be done to keep families and individuals in their homes in the first place.” He added: “In the interest of the 1,500 children -and the over 700 families – who are homeless the whole of Government must now move away from defending its record on this issue and blaming previous governments and concentrate on ensuring that their own response is adequate to the scale of the problem – including reviewing decisions that they have made, for instance on rent supplement. If the Government is serious about ending this crisis they must work together to deliver on rent certainty, to raise rent supplement to meet market rents and to also bring in tax changes for residential landlords who rent to social tenants.”
Mr. Allen said: “Minister Alan Kelly has made many of these proposals yet it is widely reported that Fine Gael are opposing them or at the very least trying to water them down to make them meaningless. Focus Ireland believes the time for political debate is over and the whole of Government must get behind these urgently required actions.”
ACTIONS THAT CAN BE MADE TO EASE THE CRISIS
Deliver rent certainty for tenants
Raise rent supplement rates to match market rents to keep families in their homes and cut the record number of households becoming homeless every month
Take action in the Finance Bill to bring in tax changes for residential landlords (including bringing their tax liability in line with commercial landlords) as any system must work for landlords and tenants alike.
Introduce new regulations which give security of tenure to the over 30,000 households where the landlord is more than 12 month in arrears in his/her mortgage and is in imminent risk of being repossessed.
LONGER TERM SOLUTIONS TO IMPROVE ACCESS TO HOUSING
Focus Ireland is seeking a commitment to the provision a minimum average of 7,000 new social housing units a year over the 5 year term of the next government.
Focus Ireland acknowledge that in this area the Government has published and is committed to implementing the Social Housing Strategy 2020 with an ‘upfront exchequer commitment’ of €1.5 billion but we now need to see bricks and mortar being delivered from that strategy.
Focus Ireland called for these actions in its Pre-Budget Submission. The full submission can be viewed here http://bit.ly/1OVkx3D
Contact: Roughan Mac Namara: 086 85 15 117