As the latest official homeless figures show a yet another record level of homelessness, Focus Ireland called for urgent action to end evictions from private rented accommodation and to speed up access to new homes.
There were 7,941, men, women and children who were homeless in June this year, an increase of 242 on the previous month (Total in 7,699), and an increase of a quarter (24.9%) in just 12 months (total in June 2016 = 6,358). The number of homeless adults went over 5,000 for the first time ever, and the number of children who are homeless rose to nearly 3,000.
The number of homeless children rose by 30% over just 12 months (by 689) (=2206 in June 2016)“The figures are worse than ever before under every single category, and getting worse. They show that the number of adults, the number of children and the number of families have all increased and reached new record highs. This is not evidence of a strategy that is working, it is evidence of a Government which is taking too little action, too slowly. ”
While the Government rightly draws attention to the good news that local authorities and homeless organisations, including Focus Ireland, supported 9,000 sustainable exits from homelessness in the first three months of the year, this just serves to highlight the complete Government failure to deal with the causes that are driving unprecedented numbers of people into homelessness.
Focus Ireland’s own figures, also released today, show that 78 families became newly homeless in Dublin in June this year, bringing to 450 the total number of families that became homeless in the capital this year.
“The number of families becoming homeless each month seems to be on the rise again, after a few months in which is appeared to slow down. In the first quarter of this year there appeared to be some slowing down in the number of families becoming homeless with 226 becoming homeless compared with 292 in the first quarter of 2016. However, the figure seems to be on an upward trend again in the second quarter, with more families becoming homeless in Q2 this year than last (224 in 217, 210 in 2016).
“Focus Ireland research repeatedly shows that the largest single cause of family homelessness is landlords selling up and using loop-holes in the law to evict families with tenancy agreements. We have provided Government with wording for a legal change which would close that loophole and protect households. But they have refused to act on it.
This is the second months in a row where the homeless figures have been held back and then issued on a Bank Holiday Friday evening.
“In this crisis we desperately need a Minister for Housing who has crediblity and is seen to take the dreadful circumstances of these families and individuals seriously seriously. It undermines the credibility of the Minister to appear to play amateurish games with the timing of the release of such serious figures. Rising homelessness cannot and will not be hidden. Whoever it is who in the Minister’s team who thinks this is a good idea should realise the damage they are doing to good will the Minister enjoys.
Director of Advocacy