New record homeless figures show family homelessness rising sharply outside Dublin

Focus Ireland calls on Minister Murphy to close legal loop-hole that allows buy-to-let landlords to evict families

The homeless figures for September 2017, announced by Minister Eoghan Murphy this afternoon (but not yet published in detail) show yet another record number of men, women and children experiencing homelessness – at 8,374 people  (compared to 8,270 in August 2017, and 6,709 in September 2016). There is also a record number of homeless children – rising from 3,048 in August month to 3,124 in September – now comprising over 37% of the total homeless figure.

“The Minister rightly highlights the extraordinary work which Local authorities, homeless organisations and the Department are doing in collaboration to support record numbers of households to move out of homelessness. However, far too little is being done to prevent people becoming homeless in the first place,” said Mike Allen, Director of Advocacy at Focus Ireland.

The single largest reason for families becoming homeless is that their landlord is either selling up or moving members of their own family into the accommodation. Under current legislation these are perfectly legal reasons to terminate a tenancy contract and render a family homeless.  In September 89 families (with 192 children) became newly homeless in Dublin, with a further 5 families which had recently left homelessness losing their new homes and being forced to returning to homelessness.

The small drop in family homelessness in Dublin (a fall of 8 families in September) is welcome, but it is more than off-set by rapidly escalating family homelessness in other cities and towns.

“We have been pleading with Minister after Minister to close off this loop-hole and protect families in their homes, but with no result. Unless action is taken to deal with this issue, all our efforts to support families out of homelessness will be futile.

Minister Murphy has been quoted as saying that tackling homelessness is like trying to empty the bath with the taps full on. Why he has not taken the opportunity to turn off at least one of the taps is hard to understand. We have provided the Minister with a carefully crafted legal amendment which would close off this loop-hole and we are calling for him now to introduce it into the Dáil, where we believe he will find widespread support. ”

Focus Ireland renewed its call for a dedicated strategy to tackle family homelessness which would include an objective that no family would spend more than 6 months in homeless accommodation, and called on the Minister to start publishing information on the length of time that families are remaining homeless.

For the latest figures and trends please click here

Media contacts: Roughan MacNamara: 0868515117 or Alan Neary: 0864680442.

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