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New figures show a rise in the number homeless to 8,737 in October as Focus Ireland warns that the Government eviction freeze must fully protect all renters

New figures published today by the Department of Housing show the number of people who are homeless in October rose by 81 from 8,656 in September to 8,737 in October. There was an increase in the number of children who are homeless (+59) and adults (+22).

Focus Ireland warned that the position of renters facing eviction is now extremely confusing. While the charity welcomed the Government announcement this week that the Covid-rent-arrears eviction ban will remain in place until at least April 2021.  However, the broader eviction ban on all grounds will end next week as the 5km travel restrictions are lifted.

The charity believes protection for renters is limited and confusing – as a person in arrears can still be evicted into homelessness on other grounds such as if the landlord is selling the property or if a family member moves in – which are the largest single reasons for family homelessness.  Focus Ireland said a more comprehensive and easily understand ban is required to fully protect all people who rent their homes during this pandemic. This would also allow greater protection where the public health threat remains very serious, but the travel restriction has been eased.

Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said: “The recent extension of the ban on evictions for Covid-19 related arrears is welcome; however, it is being communicated as if it will protect all renters, which is unfortunately not the case – as tenants in arrears can still be evicted if a Landlord is selling the property or moving family in. Focus Ireland believes there should be a moratorium on all evictions while there are restrictions on visits to other households – as evicted households will inevitably be forced to break these restrictions with well understood health risks (Level 3, 4 and 5). A broader eviction ban will help to keep people safe in their homes and prevent homeless services from becoming stretched to breaking point during winter months.”

He added: “We’ve made significant progress this year working with the State, local authorities and NGOs to cut the number of people homeless from a record total of over 10,000 to 8,737. We are particularly pleased with the reduced number of children who are homeless, which fell by 30%, from 3,826 in October last year to 2,642 this month. This partnership work has to continue with urgency as we must remember that the harsh reality is that nearly 3,000 children will still be waking up homeless on Christmas morning in a few weeks.  We have had another year in which babies were born into homelessness and will be spending their first-ever Christmas in emergency accommodation. Being homeless causes terrible trauma for anyone but it hurts children the most. Next year must be the time the State really starts gearing up to deliver more social housing so we can start to see the beginning of the end of this crisis.”

Focus Ireland has also expressed sympathy to the family and friends of those affected by the recent homeless deaths. The charity is deeply concerned with the number of deaths especially in Dublin during 2020. Mr Dennigan said: “The circumstances of any death are often complex and respect must be shown to the deceased as well as to the families who are grieving.”We must do more to prevent people becoming homeless in the first place by investing in targeted prevention services and also mental health and rehab facilities. Meanwhile, anyone who is homeless, whether they are rough sleeping or in emergency accommodation needs quick access to long-term stable accommodation with the appropriate wraparound support.”

Meanwhile, there are 1,117 families homeless, 11 fewer than the previous month according to the latest figures from the Department of Housing.

Media contact: Roughan Mac Namara 086 85 15 117 or Conor Culkin 086 4680 442

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