Focus Ireland said it believes that new figures published today reporting a total of 9,698 people homeless shows there will be no end to the crisis without a shift of policy by the Government. This is an increase of 171 people on the figure for August of 9,527.

Focus Ireland highlighted that the new figures for Sept 2018 shows a shocking 16% rise from the total of 8,374 people homeless in Sept last year.

Focus Ireland said that while much good work is being done the latest figures shows the Government has failed to take a number of vital decisions required to ease the crisis. The latest figures from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government reveal that 3,829 of the total number homeless are children (in 1,753 families).

Meanwhile, new Focus Ireland figures for Dublin also issued today show that three families became homeless every single day last month in the capital city. A total of 88 families with 193 children became newly homeless in Dublin in September.

Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said: “There is some positive news as we are managing to ensure that the number of people living in emergency accommodation is not rising as fast as it was last year. This have been achieved by the combined hard work of staff in Focus Ireland, other homeless organisations, local authorities and the DRHE. However, it is totally unacceptable and wrong that at the same time three families became homeless every single day in September in Dublin alone. This again shows that there will be no solution to the homeless crisis until the Government takes serious measures to prevent families losing their homes.”

He added: “Focus Ireland has repeatedly highlighted though our services and research that the main reason families are becoming homeless is that they are being evicted from their homes by private landlords due to properties being sold or repossessed. The Government appear to be just accepting this as a natural phenomenon is can do nothing about. But in fact it can take several meaningful steps to make people more secure in their homes. Much more can – and must be – done if we are to end this terrible human crisis and protect the childhoods of nearly 4,000 children currently homeless.”

Focus Ireland stressed that the current trend of numerous evictions resulting in rising homelessness with the State responding by placing people in hotels or hubs is not sustainable. Recent media reports about the number of Child Protection Notices sent to Tusla in relation to families in emergency accommodation gives a glimpse of the harm being done by the weaknesses in current policies. The charity said this approach is failing as not enough families are being rehoused. Focus Ireland helped over 1,000 households to secure a home and move on from homeless last year in partnership with the State and this shows homelessness can be ended as it was ended for all these households in 2017. However, the cold reality is that not enough is being done and the crisis is deepening.

Focus Ireland has set out 2 key actions that could be taken right away to help greatly reduce the numbers becoming homeless:

•  Better enforcement of current legislation: where families present as homeless to local authorities showing Notice of Terminations which give ‘landlord selling’, ‘renovations’, or ‘landlords family moving in’ as reasons, the local authority should verify whether these actions take place, and take legal action of the reasons turn out to be false. Also run an awareness campaign directed at landlords setting out the penalties for false use of these reasons for eviction. Several announcement have been made about new measures and new resources, but action is needed not just announcements.

• Provide funding to Approved Housing Bodies and Local Authorities to purchase buy-to-let loans from vulture funds where the tenants are eligible for social housing and faced with homelessness, thus bringing these units into publicly owned housing stock.

Editor’s note: ‘Newly homeless families’ refers to families that have not been recorded as being homeless in the official records (PASS). In practice this generally means that they have not been homeless in the previous two years. The number of families that become homeless in September 2018 and had been homeless previously was 14. The full data on newly homeless families is available here

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