Focus Ireland today launched its 5-Point Plan to tackle the housing & homelessness crisis and called on politicians to show more urgency in forming a Government as the number of people homeless rose over 10,000 again.
The charity said that the over 3,500 children who are homeless do not have time to wait as their childhoods are being stolen every day. Focus Ireland’s 5 Point Plan was launched at a photo-call outside the Dáil by four of its young supporters who delivered a message to political parties on behalf of all the children who are homeless in Ireland.
The four youngsters (Josh Kelly, 17 and his cousin Sam Kelly 13, were joined by Ava O’Donnell, 11 and her sister Teaghan, 9) called on all TD’s to make tackling this crisis their priority when they return to the Dáil this week.
Josh Kelly (17) said: “We are doing this today to stand in solidarity with all the children who are homeless. During the Election campaign all the political parties were saying that the housing & homelessness crisis is the main issue that needs to be solved. We want to deliver a message to all politicians that it is totally unacceptable and wrong that over 3,500 children are homeless. The next Government needs to make sure that every child has a place to call home so that they can enjoy their childhood growing up and not be living under constant stress. It is terrible for anyone to be homeless and I know from volunteering with Focus Ireland that research shows homelessness is hurting children the most.”
Meanwhile, 11 year-old Ava O’Donnell said: “It is really horrible to think that over 3,500 children who are homeless don’t have a home or even anywhere safe to play. I love being at home with my family and having friends over to spend time with them. It makes me happy and I think that every child needs a home and all children deserve to be happy and safe. We are here today to say to all TD’s that they need to do a lot more to help people and make sure nobody is homeless in Ireland.”
Focus Ireland’s 5 point plan includes demands for commitment to build 35,000 homes each year over the next five years and for the next Government to move to take the party politics out of housing delivery by establishing a Commission on Housing. This Commission would work along the lines of the approach taken by Sláintecare where all parties have signed up to an agreed policy approach to ensure consistency and more effective action to tackle the crisis in healthcare. Focus Ireland believes a similar approach is required to ensure consensus in how best to end the housing and homelessness crisis.
The charity said the latest official figures show there were 1611 families in emergency homeless accommodation in Ireland including a total of 3,574 children.
Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said: “It was clear in the recent election that voters from all parts of the country want this homelessness and housing crisis to be ended. Whatever parties and independents form the new Government, an ambitious but realistic programme for solving this issue must be the number one priority. While I understand delicate talks of this nature can take time, the over 3,500 children homeless don’t have time. For every extra day our TDs negotiate a Government formation, three family become homeless every day. All parties need to stop playing party politics and start working together to show voters that they are committed to ending this crisis.”
Focus Ireland also maintains that the primary response to homelessness in recent years has been to build more homeless emergency accommodation rather than building more homes, and this approach can actually contribute to increasing the figures. The latest figures just issued on Friday reported that the number of people homeless increased to 10,271 in January – an increase of 540 people since December.
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