Focus Ireland has launched a grassroots online campaign calling on every local election candidate to commit to tackling the homelessness crisis if they are elected on May 24th.
To date over 5,000 emails have been sent by voters to many of the 1,400 candidates running in the local elections nationwide. Focus Ireland has also now written to all candidates asking them if they will take the pledge to end homelessness.
Focus Ireland has asked its supporters nationwide to email prospective councillors in their area asking them to take an Election Pledge signing up to three key actions to help end homelessness.
The charity said that while vital changes are required in central Government policy to help end homelessness the fact is that local councils and councillors also play a key role in delivering services and housing to tackle this crisis.
The charity maintains that it can make a real difference if councillors are genuinely committed and informed on the issues of housing and homelessness.
Focus Ireland is calling on voters to go to www.focusireland.ie and email their local candidates though a quick and secure online campaign tool asking them sign up to the Focus Ireland pledge to support three key actions if elected.
Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said:
“The fact there’s now a record total of 10,305 people now homeless in Ireland should be a clear signal that we need a change of direction. It is truly shocking and unacceptable that nearly 4,000 of the people homeless are children.”
“The legal responsibility for responding to homelessness lies with Local authorities and they are also responsible for providing housing and planning our communities. Every candidate will, of course, call on central Government to do more, but we wanted to highlight three key areas where elected councillors can make a real difference themselves.”
“Many candidates will make promises about housing on the campaign trail and then many of the same politicians (of all parties) will later object to social housing development plans in their area. We want aspiring Councillors to be ambitious and committed to change and accountability. It is, however, important to stress that we have very positive relationships with many councillors and local authorities. This campaign is designed to build on this solid foundation for the next five years.”
Focus Ireland said it has already had a very strong response to its campaign on social media and in emails being sent to candidates all over the country. We hope to reach most of the over 1,400 candidates who are seeking election.
Explaining the details of the three Focus Ireland commitments Mike Allen added:
“We need more houses to be built in all our communities. Local authorities must set ambitious targets for building new social and public housing – and need to deliver on those targets. It’s imperative that the delivery of quality social housing in sustainable, vibrant communities is maximised.”
“Homelessness has changed and we are now seeing family homelessness on a scale never seen before. Local authorities need to issue guidelines to staff about how to respond to the very specific issues families experiencing homelessness face. A framework to keep children safe and support families out of homelessness must be introduced urgently to prevent children and parents experiencing additional trauma during an extremely difficult time.
“Youth homelessness is at record levels. Young people find themselves at the back of the queue for both private-rented and social housing. Local authorities are improving their services but more needs to be done to ensure young care leavers do not end up homeless. This can be changed through a local youth homelessness strategy linked to the scheme of letting priorities, to ensure these young people have the chance to become independent adults and prevent homelessness later in life.”
Focus Ireland has also reiterated that there will be no solution to the homeless crisis until a series of measures are enacted at both local and national levels. For more information on the campaign and to use the email tool log onto focusireland.ie and voters can also show their support on social media by using the hashtag #FocusOnHomelesness.
In a separate campaign Focus Ireland is working with the European homelessness federation FEANTSA and has written to every European election candidate asking them to take the pledge and to reaffirm to the EU’s commitment of ending homelessness by 2030.
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