Focus Ireland campaign calls on the leaders of the three Government parties to set a target date for ending homelessness
Figures published today by the Department of Housing show the number of people who are homeless in December 2020 fell by 284 to 8,200 – compared to 8,484 in the previous month. There was also a reduction in the number of children who are homeless to 2,327 (a drop of 125). The fall in the monthly figures can be directly linked to the eviction ban which Focus Ireland believes should be continued even when the country moves to level 4 restrictions.
For the month of December 2020, Focus Ireland services helped support 94 households out of homelessness which included 120 children. The charity helped 1,354 households to secure a home last year working in partnership with the State.
Focus Ireland has called on the Government to make a firm commitment to end homelessness as the charity stressed that the crisis can only be ended with a clear plan and timeline in place to move from managing towards ending homelessness.
The charity’s current campaign calling for such a commitment by the government has already amassed nearly 10,000 signatures.
In every recent election, voters have declared they care deeply about housing and homelessness and the crisis is again in the spotlight after the recent RTE Investigates Documentary and Dail debates. The current ‘Programme for Government’ says many welcome things about reducing the crisis, but nowhere does it set out a vision of ending homelessness or a commitment to do so.
Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan explained why it is important for the government to make a commitment to ending homelessness as he said: “Only a few countries have managed to come near to ending homelessness, but no country has achieved any significant reduction in homelessness without having a long-term vision of ending it. When there was a previous Government commitment to ending long-term homelessness by 2010, this led to the lowest ever level of homelessness in Ireland. That success was swept away by the economic crisis. We can do better this time.”
Mr Dennigan adds: “At this point, we are calling on the Government to confirm that it believes that homelessness can be ended, and it is prepared to make a commitment to do so. We welcome that statement by the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, that he personally believes homelessness can be ended and it committed to that goal (Eolas Conference on Housing, 21st January 2021). Later this year, the Government will be bringing forward it full ‘Homes For All’ strategy. We believe this should re-instate the commitment to end homelessness and set out a process which will involve all the relevant voices – Government departments and agencies, homeless organisations, local authorities and opposition parties .”
Mr Dennigan also gave his reaction to the possibility of Rent pressure zones being replaced with wider protections under new plans being considered by the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien.
“We welcome the Minister’s stated intention to introduce broader rent protections for the rental market when rent pressure zones expire. We know that unaffordable rents and evictions from the private rental market are fueling this homeless crisis, which makes it critically important that, while doing everything possible to tackle the underlying problem of lack of supply, we continue and expand existing protections for renters who are at risk of losing their home.”
Meanwhile, there are 970 families homeless according to the latest figures from the Department of Housing. Focus Ireland welcomes the positive news about the reduced numbers but believes it’s important that the Department of Housing include families who are in ‘own door emergency accommodation’ as part of the official figures.
The End Homelessness petition can be signed here.
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