As the January homeless figures rises above 10,000 again, after a one-month dip in December 2019, Focus Ireland has called on all political parties to make a determination to tackle homelessness the core of a new Government programme.
The number of people who were homeless rose to 10,271 in January, a rise of 540 on the December figure.
The December 2019 figures had shown an unusually sharp fall, which had been widely welcomed as a possible ‘turning of the corner’. Focus Ireland analysis (www.bit.ly/Dec19figures) showed that this fall was caused by two factors: a now annual decline in the number of homeless families and an unprecedented decline in the number of single people who were homeless.
The rise in the January figures show a return to the upward trend in homelessness which has predominated since 2014.
Initial analysis of the January figures has shown that the number of families has increased (by 63 families, with 152 children) as has happened every January since the crisis began. However, most of the January 2020 increase is caused by a 309 increase in the number of single homeless people, with most of this being accounted for by increases in Dublin.
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 nearly 4,000 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.
Speaking about the figures Mr. Dennigan added:
“The flow into homelessness and out of it is complex and we need to avoid making snap conclusions based on one month’s figures. It took years of wrong policy to create this problem and it is not going to be solved by the good news of one month, it will take years of good policies and resolute work. The fall in the homelessness figures in December had been expected, as there is an established seasonal pattern of fewer families entering homelessness, with some families temporarily staying with friends or families at Christmas time. Access to accurate numbers is key to informing policy and services responses designed to tackle homelessness. It is equally vital to have the information behind the numbers to be able to clearly understand trends as they develop. This information acts to clearly highlight what is working and what needs to improve. Unfortunately, the increase in January shows that we have not yet turned a corner and the new Government must show urgency towards tackling this issue.”
Meanwhile regional figures show that homelessness is not just a Dublin crisis as 410 families and 896 children are now homeless outside of the capital. Nationally there are 3,574 children & 1,611 families homeless according to latest figures from the Department of Housing.
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