As official homeless figures reach 10,253, Focus Ireland have today called for the Government to urgently put in place two specific strategies to tackle the deepening dual problems of youth & family homelessness.
The figure of 10,253 homeless for May is a welcome drop of 125 people from the record of 10,378 homeless in April. Focus Ireland welcomes the drop of 29 families with 45 children and the charity is working hard with the State to help more families to secure a home. However, the charity stressed that the overall trend in the number of people homeless is upwards when compared to two years ago when the figure stood at 7,699.
Focus Ireland said that it is vital to have very specific strategies in place to end the crises in youth and family homelessness as the reasons for each are varied as are the solutions required.
Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said:
“Focus Ireland believes that it is essential for the Government to set out two individual strategies, tailored to meet the very specific needs of young adults who are homeless and families that are homeless. While all forms of homelessness share a root cause – the shortage of secure affordable homes – there are vital differences in their impact and the sort of interventions that they need.”
Mr Dennigan added:
“Young people who are homeless are very much the forgotten homeless, yet we know that an experience of homelessness in young adulthood significantly increases the risk of homelessness throughout life. By neglecting youth homelessness now we are storing up real problems for the future. A clear framework for tackling Youth homelessness has been set out by the Irish Coalition to End Youth Homelessness, of which Focus Ireland is a founding member.
“Our family homelessness crisis is more complex and more severe than anything we have seen before and requires distinct and tailored responses. The absence of a coherent family homelessness strategy, and the absence of specialised legislation or regulation means that family homelessness is often treated as ‘adult homelessness with some children tagging along.’ If we keep on this way we will fail the thousands of children whose future depends on us.’
“I am pleased to say that Focus Ireland research has only this month provided solid data which clearly outlines where families were living before they lost their home, why they became homeless and what could have done to prevent them from losing their home in the first place. This clear information informs our work with the State to refine our family services and to also develop policy recommendations that – if acted upon by Government – would help to greatly reduce the number of families becoming homeless.”
The figures also show that there are 3,749 homeless children and 1,700 families who are homeless. More families are trapped in homelessness for ever increasing periods. Focus Ireland has called on Government to set a cast-iron deadline that no family or individuals should be homeless for longer than six months. The charity also warned that the delivery of social housing nationwide is also failing to meet the great demand.
Meanwhile, figures also issued today by Focus Ireland show that a total of 67 new families (with 119 children) became homeless in Dublin in May. This again demonstrating that more needs to be done to prevent families becoming homeless in the first place. That means one family became homeless every eight hours in our capital city since Christmas.
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