Sr Stan Tells Focus Ireland Conference “Government Plan Does Not Add Up For Families Who Are Homeless”

Focus Ireland Life President Sr. Stan told the charity’s conference in Dublin today that the “Government plan does not add up for families who are homeless.” Sr. Stan was speaking at the “No Going Back” – Building sustainable pathways out of Homelessness” conference held at the Aviva stadium in Dublin.

The event marked Focus Ireland’s 10th annual conference and featured national and international speakers and took a timely look at the Governments Action Plan on Homelessness and Housing – Rebuilding Ireland.  Focus Ireland said that the conference will help work to continue to inform, influence and shape the implementation of this ambitious plan as a matter of urgency.

Sr. Stan said: “This conference is addressing the issue we all know to be true…that we need to “build sustainable pathways out of homelessness” and provide homes for families and individuals – not just better emergency accommodation. We intend to play a key role in work to achieve this and to this end Focus Ireland recently announced plans to double our housing stock and to provide 600 more homes over the next four years to help tackle the crisis.”

Sr. Stan said that while there is much in the government plan to be applauded not enough attention has been given to Minister Coveney statement that: “ The main aim in relation to family homelessness, as set out in the Action Plan, is to ensure that by mid-2017, commercial hotels will only be used in limited circumstances to accommodate homeless families”. This means that the Action Plan offers little prospect of a real home for many hundreds of children. In many respects it is a strikingly ambitious plan – but when it comes to families the ambitions are we well below what our society should accept for our children.”

She added: “While we are supporting  more families to leave homelessness the numbers becoming homeless are also rising. Given the growing scale of the problem it is hard to see how the Government can reach its goals of ceasing to use hotels as emergency accommodation by the middle of 2017. The only way this can be achieved is immediate action to halt the constant rising numbers of families and individuals who are becoming homeless.”

Focus Ireland has outlined key measures which the Government  can take in the coming Budget to fast-track delivery of housing so we can really start to tackle this terrible crisis to ensure that families – and individuals – who were made homeless in the crisis are not trapped in emergency accommodation for years. The measures Focus Ireland is calling for include Budget 2017 adopting the Housing Finance Agency’s proposal that it becomes the main source of lending to Local Authorities so they can more quickly secure funding to build housing.”

Sr. Stan explained: “The current funding process is too slow and complex due to the Government policy of ensuring all such investment is “off the Government books”.  This must change in Budget 2017 otherwise we are failing these families and children who are homeless.  For years now we have been stuck in the deeply frustrating maze in which the Government keep insisting that money is no problem yet the Local Authorities tell us the systems are too complex for them to access  the money to deliver homes which are urgently needed.”

Focus Ireland said that while its family team supports one family a day to move out of homelessness (in partnership with the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and Local Authorities) it’s impossible to keep pace as 3 more families become homeless that very same day.  Focus Ireland figures issued earlier this month revealed that 72 families became newly homeless in Dublin in August as the crisis deepens. These means that 671 families with 1257 children have become homeless in Dublin alone in just the first 8 months of this year – an average of 84 per month compared to just over 60 per month last year.

Focus Ireland stressed that it welcomed the additional detail on “Rebuilding Ireland” provided by the Government last week as it confirmed that the target of the joint Focus Ireland/Peter McVerry Trust Dublin Housing First project would be tripled to help support people who are rough-sleeping to move into a home with support.  The charity also welcomed the funding of supports to families and the new focus on care leavers but stressed more needs be done to deliver housing for families.  The charity said that while it was positive that the Government confirmed up to 1,500 rapid build emergency accommodation units will be provided (or under construction ) by 2018 but stressed that these are planned to be used as emergency accommodation rather than the long-term homes that families need.

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