Focus Ireland has called on the Government to take action to reflect the urgency of the deepening homeless crisis in next week’s Budget as new figures issued today show the seventh consecutive month the total number homeless at over 10,000.
The official figures from the Department of Housing show an increase of 63 people homeless in August to a total of 10,338 compared to 10,275 people homeless in July.
The charity said that much work is being done across the housing and homeless sector and welcomed the announcement by Minister Murphy last week that the number of families exiting homelessness has continued to rise (2,825 adults and their dependents exited homelessness into a tenancy during the first six months of the year).
However, Focus Ireland also stressed that the scale of families continuing to lose their homes each week demonstrates that the crisis is still far from under control. The charity said that the targets in ‘Rebuilding Ireland’ must now be reviewed to ensure more social housing is built as a matter of urgency.
Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said:
“We have to remember that the experience of losing your home and becoming homeless is in itself deeply traumatic for anyone – most of all children. Of course, it is welcome that more families are being supported out of homelessness – but we have to ask ourselves as a society why so many of our children are being put through this trauma in the first place? While other children were enjoying our glorious summer, 466 children faced the anxiety and fear of losing their homes, while many others continued to live out their lives in Hubs, hotels rooms and other unsuitable facilities.
“With Budget 2020 just over a week away the Government need to use this opportunity to be more ambitious in relation to the number of houses that are being built. In particular, the Government should increase the proportion of social and affordable housing which the Land Development Agency should deliver from the current 10% social/30% affordable/60% market to 15% social/15% cost rental/30% affordable for sale/40% market. The Government should also act on the ESRI recommendation for a more aggressive tax on building land which is being left idle”
He added: “The Government is making the case that the targets in Rebuilding Ireland are being met. We recognise that much is being achieved, and in particular more homes are being built than was the case a few years ago. It must be clear to everyone now, that the targets themselves are not enough to deal with the scale of the crisis. The Government needs to be more ambitious in relation to the number of houses that are being built. We welcome the recognition by the ESRI that part of the problem is the hoarding of building land which is desperately needed for housing. The Government needs to send a clear signal to the people who are doing this and introduce a tax which is sufficiently high to deter this anti-social behaviour.”
The August figures reveal that the total number of children homeless are 3,848 (in 1,726 families). Meanwhile, the regional figures show the homelessness is not just Dublin crisis with nearly 450 families and 998 children now homeless outside of the capital.
Meanwhile, figures released by Focus Ireland today show that 466 children (in 227 families) lost their homes in Dublin during July and August this year.
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