Focus Ireland has welcomed new reports issued today by two separate Oireachtas Committees which explore how the family homelessness crisis impacts on children. The reports are by the Joint Oireachtas Committees on ‘Children and Youth Affairs’ and on ‘Housing, Planning and Local Government.’
Both reports were, in part, triggered by April’s Ombudsman for Children Report ‘No Place Like Home’, which gave a perspective of Family Hubs and family homelessness from a child’s perspective.
The Ombudsman’s report painted a stark picture and echoed much of the experience of Focus Ireland’s frontline services work supporting children in families who are homeless.
Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said:
“The fact that two separate cross-party committees have published such strong reports that both recognise that current policies are insufficient needs to be a real wake up call for the Government.”
“It is clear to see that the two reports make many similar recommendations so we hope that this creates the potential for a real cross-party consensus on a new way forward to help end this terrible human crisis as a record number of 10, 397 people are now homeless including nearly 4,000 who are children.”
“Focus Ireland believes that key elements of such a new approach would be an independent review of the existing family homelessness measures (to see what is working and what needs to be changed), greater investment into dedicated child support workers and a strengthening of the right to housing in the Constitution.”
KEY RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE TWO REPORTS INCLUDE (Each recommendation below is followed by a line on Focus Ireland’s position & work on each issue)
• Oireachtas Committee Recommendation: More child support workers made available in all emergency accommodation to each family and child within one week of entering emergency accommodation.
Focus Ireland developed the unique model of supporting homeless families through an integrated team that includes dedicated workers for the family and for children with specific support needs. The benefits of this approach in supporting families out of homelessness and minimising the damage while they are homeless has been demonstrated, and the recognition of the value of the Focus Ireland model by the OCO and both Committees is very welcome. Unfortunately, due to funding limitations, only 9% of children who are homeless & supported by Focus Ireland currently have a child support worker.
• Oireachtas Committee Recommendation: A Constitutional right to housing.
(Focus Ireland has campaigned on this issue for many years and managed to help secure ‘A Right To Housing’ as one of the issues recommendation to Govt by the Constitutional convention. The Government has never acted on this recommendation that this issue should be put before the people in a referendum. )
• Oireachtas Committee Recommendation: Legislation to place upper time limits on the length of time a family can stay in emergency accommodation.
(Focus Ireland has repeatedly called for a cast iron deadline that no family or individual be allowed to remain homeless for longer than 6 months)
Focus Ireland is the main agency working to support families and children who are homeless in Dublin on behalf of the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and has helped over 1,200 families to secure a home and move on from homelessness in the past two years.〈 Back to Press Releases