Focus Ireland helped a record number of 1,790 households to avoid homelessness or leave homelessness last year – the charity announced at its virtual 2019 Annual Report launch. This figure includes 1,150 households which Focus Ireland helped support out of homelessness and 640 households where the charity’s interventions avoided them becoming homeless in the first place. Of the 1,150 households supported out of homelessness, 810 were families with children, a 62% increase compared with over 500 the previous year.
Speaking at the virtual launch Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said: “The record number of households who are not homeless today because of our intervention in 2019 reflects our philosophy: that what matters is not just the number of people who cross our threshold but the number of lives we can change. The success of our work must be judged by our impact and we hope that this report will convey what is most important to us – the fact that the people we strive to help are human beings and not statistics.”
He added: “Homelessness and the housing crisis were one of the main issues for voters in February’s general election. This message must not be lost during the Covid-19 crisis. Our Annual Report again shows that solutions are possible. We need the new Government to recognise the scale of this problem and to put in place the solutions needed to deliver lasting solutions which build new homes and communities and provide vulnerable people with the support they need. If there is one Covid-19 lesson that we can learn from 2020 and apply to the future, it is the value of partnership. We are not saying that 1,790 households are not homeless solely because of the work of Focus Ireland, every case involved partnerships, whether those be with Government, Local authorities, Dublin Region Homeless Executive, Tusla or the HSE. And each of them should be as proud of these achievements as are we. Partnership has always been core to our work, we learnt a lot more about effective collaboration during the lockdown, and we need to keep that higher intensity into the future continue.”
Focus Ireland outlined some key achievements in 2019 including:
Speaking at the launch of the Annual Report, Focus Ireland Life President & Founder Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy sent a strong message to the current government.
“I really do believe Covid-19 can be a turning point in the fight against homelessness as the government can learn from the effectiveness of rent freezes and the ban on evictions. Strong preventative measures will make a firm commitment that people who are homeless during lockdown will not be expected to return to the streets or emergency accommodation but will be offered homes through an expanded Housing First programme. She added:
“As the country learns how to live with Covid-19 we must all make sure that homelessness must not be allowed to become part of the new normal. We need to move on from short-term measures to provide more social and affordable rental housing. All of us at Focus Ireland firmly believe that homelessness can be ended. We know what is working and also have a very clear vision of what needs to be done not just by the Government but all parties concerned in order to end this crisis.”
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