Focus Ireland welcomed the fall in the number of people who are homeless in June as the total dropped to 8,699 men, women and children. The charity is urging the new government to keep people, especially renters, safe in their homes while the threat of Covid-19 to public health still looms.
The charity has expressed grave concern that weaknesses in the legislation to extend protection to renters in the private rental sector who have been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic will result in a new surge in homelessness. The national housing and homeless charity has warned that this surge in homelessness following the lifting of rental protections could coincide with a new wave of Covid-19, and homeless services across Ireland will struggle not to be overwhelmed.
Focus Ireland welcomed the new High Level Task Force established by Minister O’Brien shortly after his appointment, of which it is a member, and called on the Minister to work closely with the Task Force to monitor the effect of the new legislation over the coming months and bring forward further protections for renters if the situation deteriorates.
Mike Allen, Director of Advocacy said: “The last 5 months have proved that the first defence against the virus is a stable home. Measures such as the moratorium on evictions and rent freezes have evidently worked as the number of homeless have reduced significantly since March.”
“We understand the time pressure that the new Minister is under and we welcome the efforts in the legislation to protect people who fall into rent arrears due to job losses during the pandemic. However, the legislation and the public debate about it has concentrated almost exclusively on the issue of rent arrears and rent levels. Rent arrears and rent levels are important, but by concentrating entirely on these issue the legislation neglects the largest single cause of family homelessness – evictions to allow landlords to sell up or to replace the renting family with a member of their own family.
We are deeply concerned that, when these protections simply end tomorrow, August 1st, we will return to the scale of evictions we were previously seeing plus having to deal with the cases which were postponed while the protections were in place.”
Focus Ireland also welcomed the record number of people who had exited homelessness over the last 6 months. Right through the pandemic Focus Ireland has been working with local authorities to take advantage of opportunities for people to move out of homelessness, and it is very encouraging to see this work reflected in the falling number of people who are homeless. The big challenge will be to keep up this progress as the housing market returns to it previous disfunctional ‘normal.’
Meanwhile, there are 2,653 children & 1,159 families homeless according to latest figures from the Department of Housing.
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