New figures show one third of the people who are now homeless is a child
According to new figures published to today (17th December) by the Department of Environment the number of people who are ‘officially’ homeless went above 5,000 for the first time in October, and one third of the people who are now homeless is child.
“These figures are a timely and shocking reminder of just how serious the homeless crisis has become” said Mike Allen, Director of Advocacy in Focus Ireland. “The number of children who are living in emergency homeless accommodation has doubled since this time last year and we have now reached the appalling situation where one third of the people who are homeless is a child. This is a completely different form of homelessness than we have previously encountered and is a reflection on the failure of successive Government’s to protect the most vulnerable.
“While we strongly welcome the measure which the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive have taken in recent weeks to reduce the numbers of people who are sleeping rough, these figures remind us that the underlying problem of homelessness is continuing to climb. There is a growing sense from the Government that if they can resolve the issue of rough sleeping, they can forget about homelessness. We are proud to have worked with the four local authorities in Dublin to ensure that all the families who are homeless have a place to stay and support and are not forced to sleep in the open. But homelessness is not just about rough sleeping, and it is not solved by opening more emergency homeless hostels. It will be solved by more effective measures to prevent people becoming homeless and effective policies to ensure there is an adequate supply of affordable secure homes for people moving out of homelessness.
“These figures come from the period before the welcomed measures to curb excessive rent increases were introduced, so it is too early to assess the impact of those changes. However the speed and the scale of the increase in homelessness suggests a problem which is much greater than the responses the Government has yet put in place.”
Focus Ireland renewed its call for a much higher proportion of the 2,000 new homes to be built by NAMA next year to be made available for social housing. NAMA is committed to building 20,000 new homes over the next number of years, 2,000 next year. Only 10% of these will be social housing, the absolute legal minimum of social housing allowed. Focus Ireland has questioned why the Government is asking NAMA to build houses for the for-profit private market when it is not fulfilling its responsibility to provide sufficient social housing for the most vulnerable.
Focus Ireland is the leading organisation working with all the homeless families in Dublin, and was designated as the Family Homeless Action Team for the city by the four Dublin local authorities
Focus Ireland said that while several elements of the recent Government package of measures to tackle the housing and rental crisis are welcome – the charity warned the plans may fall short of the response required to end the current homeless emergency situation. The charity said the measures will help many households who are secure in the rental market but will fail to protect some of the most vulnerable households who are being forced into homelessness every day.
Most of the increase in family homelessness came in Dublin, though there are signs that similar problems may be developing on other main population areas and homeless families from the counties around Dublin are tending to come into the city to find emergency accommodation.
Media Contact: Michelle Moran 086 468 0442