New Figures from Focus Ireland show 97 families became homeless in Dublin in July

The news comes after the Dublin Region Homeless Executive released figures yesterday showing that the number of children within families who are homeless in Dublin exceeded 2,000 for the first time since current records began. There were 2,020 children within 993 families in emergency accommodation in the capital last month.

These figures follow on from last month’s launch of the Government’s Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness which aims to ensure that by this time next year using hotels for families who are homeless will only be in limited circumstances. Focus Ireland said the continuing deepening crisis in family homelessness highlights the scale of the challenge ahead for the Government if it is to reach this target.

Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said: “It is highly concerning that nearly 100 more families became homeless in Dublin alone last month. This is sadly one of the highest number of families who have become homeless in one single month. It is worth noting that the eviction of many of these families would have started a number of weeks ago, so that we are not yet seeing any positive impact from the Government’s decision to increase Rent Supplement levels. However, there are indications that an increasing number of families are becoming homeless because their landlord is selling up (or being forced to sell up). The fact that there is no immediate response in the Action Plan to this growing factor is of grave concern and shows that the range of actions in the Plan needs to be widened.

He added: “Although the Government’s Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness provides some direction on how we can deal with this crisis, there are real concerns that we have a broad framework rather than a detailed plan of action, particularly in relation to families. It is shocking to think that we now have a record number of 2,020 children living in emergency accommodation – a lot of whom will be going back to school in the next few weeks and trying to cope with the stress of being homeless.”

“At present, the only real response to these families is the promise of better emergency accommodation in ‘rapid build housing.’ These children and families will welcome better emergency accommodation but they also deserve a more detailed plan from the Government setting out solutions to the fact that they have no long-term home. A large number of these will cost money and the level of funding will depend upon the 2017 Budget. In this context the report is timely but the actual costing of these initiatives and how they will be progressed in the budget process needs to be made clearer.”

He also noted that Focus Ireland, along with the DRHE, are increasingly successful at supporting families out of homelessness into permanent homes, however the number of families becoming homeless continues to overwhelm the best work of this team.
Focus Ireland said it is committed to working with the new Government to deliver the practical elements needed to deliver the core objectives of the plan but the time is now – we need clear targets and timelines if we are to end the nightmare of homelessness for all the families and children around the country who are living through this trauma every single day.”

Notes to Editor:

Focus Ireland Reaction to some key areas in the recent Govt plan on Housing & Homelessness where additional work is required:

• Family Homelessness: The section on family homelessness falls far short of what is required to respond to the even deepening crisis in this area. It is unclear whether the programme action to move families who are homeless out of hotels and into rapid build housing is seen as provision of more suitable emergency accommodation or whether these units could be their final home. It is notable that the Plan makes several references to potential constitutional limitations in relation to property issues, but makes no reference to the impact of the recently introduced ‘Rights of the Child’ into the Constitution. The timescale for delivering the rapid build housing (approx. 600 units by mid 2017) and vacant private units (Housing Re-use Strategy not due until mid-2017) are hard to reconcile with the objective of ending the use of hotels by mid-2017.

• The growing cause of family homelessness is landlords evicting tenants in order to sell-up but any measures to protect families from losing their homes in these circumstances will not commence until early 2017, as the Private Rented Sector Strategy will not be completed until the end of 2016. There is no reference to the risk posed to families with children of having to sleep rough. The 72 families who became homeless in Dublin in June brings the total for the first six months of 2016 to 502.

• Rent Supplement. While the increase in Rent Supplement levels in July is welcome, the plan does not set out a framework for when these limits will be reviewed again or on what basis. This creates an unnecessary and damaging uncertainty within the private rented market at a time when certainty is needed.


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