Press Releases

Press Releases

Focus Ireland’s Annual Reports provide details on the organisation’s structure, activities and accounts for that year. You can view or download Focus Ireland’s Annual Reports since 2002 from the list below.

Latest Press Releases

FOCUS IRELAND WELCOMES MOVE TO CREATE RENT “PRESSURE ZONES” BUT WARNS IT MAY NOT BE ENOUGH TO DEAL WITH CRISIS IN THE RENTAL SECTOR

Focus Ireland today broadly welcomed Housing Minister Simon Coveney’s move to introduce ‘rent pressure zones’ in an attempt to stall the spiralling costs in Dublin and Cork. The move is part of a wider rental strategy published by the Government today as part of its Rebuilding Ireland plan.

Latest figures show prices in the capital have jumped by as much as 40pc since the downturn, while the average cost of renting a property nationwide is now €1,000 a month.

However, the charity said it is worried that the rent control seems to only apply to existing tenancies.  While this move will help to reduce the risk of existing tenants losing their homes Focus Ireland said it is concerned that landlords will shift all the price pressure to new leases.

Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said: “This will mean it will remain extremely difficult for people trying to move out of homelessness as rents for new leases will continue to escalate as landlords try to compensate themselves for the fact that they won’t be able to maximise rents in these “pressure zones” once a tenancy is under way. This problem could have been avoided by including ‘re-lets’ in the proposed legislation as this would have widened the positive impact of this emergency measure and improved access to the rental market.”

Focus Ireland said that a simple measure to control “re-let” rents in this way would also remove the risk of some landlords evicting sitting tenants to bring in new tenants at a higher rate or rent.

Mr. Allen added: “We are also concerned at the very real risk that we could now see rapid rent rises in Limerick, Galway, Waterford and Kildare as landlords attempt to take action before any control is introduced. It would have been better to have included these areas which already have rapidly rising rents in the initial proposal, with an option to then take them out if the PRTB research showed the measures were not needed.”

The charity welcomed moves in the report to help increase supply of housing by extending the pilot Repair and Leasing scheme to be available nationally by Q2 2017 along with the planned delivery of a National Vacant Housing Strategy by Q 1 next year which will aim to help get some of the national stock of over 200,000 vacant homes back into use.

Meanwhile, Focus Ireland said the reference in the strategy which “encourages” banks and landlord borrowers in arrears to agree solutions which may include retaining the use of the property for rental purposes where tenant is in receipt of housing support will in reality provide no real comfort for the thousands of tenants in this situation.

Focus Ireland said that the new figures issued this week by the Central Bank clearly report the growing crisis facing tenants in buy-to-let properties and called for the Government to take urgent action now to help these vulnerable households.  Figures for the three months to the end of September report that over 280 houses or apartments owned by landlords were repossessed by banks or financial institutions.

Focus Ireland has called on the Government to change the law to stop banks and other financial institutions from being able to repossess buy-to-let homes and evict the tenant.  The charity said up to 40 children in 20 families are being forced into homelessness every month by banks & financial institutions through evictions from buy-to-let homes.

Last week in the Dáil it was discussed how to increase the protection for tenants in the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Bill 2016.  The Bill has now been referred to committee. The Government’s “Tyrrelstown Amendment’ in relation to this Bill initially proposes to ensure that landlords with 20 or more properties cannot evict their tenants in one go. However, most of the evictions from buy-to-let tenancies are by landlords with 1 or 2 properties.”

Contact:  Michelle Moran  086 468 0442  or Roughan Mac Namara – 086 85 15 117

New Central Bank Figures Show the Housing and Homeless Crisis is Continuing to Deepen

Focus Ireland said new figures from the Central Bank which show more than four family homes are being repossessed every day shows the housing and homeless crisis continues to deepen.

Figures for the three months to the end of September report that 421 homeowners either volunteered or were forced to hand over the keys to the properties. Meanwhile, over 280 houses or apartments owned by landlords were repossessed by banks or financial institutions.

Focus Ireland said that the new figures also clearly report the growing crisis facing tenants in buy-to-let properties and called for the Government to take urgent action now to help these vulnerable households.

The leading charity said the Government must move to accept proposals to increase the rights of tenants in 132,000 buy-to-let properties when this matter is voted on in the Dail. According to the report for Quarter 3 2016, there are 14,518 buy-to-let mortgages in arrears by more than 720 days, accounting for 11% of all buy-to-let mortgages.

Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said: “The overall picture emerging is of further deterioration of the situation in the buy-to-let market with thousands of tenants at risk of losing their home, not through any fault of their own but because their landlord is unable to pay their mortgage.”

Focus Ireland has called on the Government to change the law to stop banks and other financial institutions from being able to repossess buy-to-let homes and evict the tenant.  The charity said up to 40 children in 20 families are being forced into homelessness every month by banks & financial institutions through evictions from buy-to-let homes.

Last week in the Dáil it was discussed how to increase the protection for tenants in the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Bill 2016.  The Bill has now been referred to committee.  The Government’s “Tyrrelstown Amendment’ in relation to this Bill initially proposes to ensure that landlords with 20 or more properties cannot evict their tenants in one go. However, most of the evictions from buy-to-let tenancies are by landlords with 1 or 2 properties.”

Focus Ireland is currently running a campaign calling for action to stop families renting from ‘buy-to-let’ landlords being evicted if the landlord is forced to sell the property. An incredible 40,000 e-mails have now been sent to TDs and Senators in the weeks of the campaign calling for action.

Mr Allen said: “It is vital we always remember that behind every one of these evictions that we are talking about men, women and children who are being forced out of their home – through no fault of their own – and becoming homeless. This is wrong and totally unacceptable. While much good work is being done to prevent people from becoming homeless the growing number of buy-to-let homes being either repossessed or sold is causing a constant rise in the numbers being forced into homelessness.”

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40% Rise in People Sleeping Rough in Dublin

NEW figures issued today by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive* report that 142 people were found sleeping rough in Dublin on the night of Nov 22nd.

This shows a 40% rise in the number sleeping rough in Dublin since last April when 102 people were found sleeping on the streets compared to the 142 people recorded last week in Dublin.

These latest figures means that a minimum number of 219 people were without a bed on the night of Nov 22nd as an additional 77 people were sleeping in the Homeless Night Café.  This compares to a total of 171 people on the night of the previous count on April 24th this year (When 102 were sleeping rough & 69 in the night café).

Focus Ireland is one of the lead organisations working to tackle rough sleeping, working in partnership with the Peter McVerry Trust to deliver the city’s Housing First programme. This includes an ‘Intake Team’ which is out on the streets every night engaging with people sleeping rough – or at risk – to get them off the streets and into an emergency bed.

The Housing First approach aims to get people off the streets and into a home as quickly as possible. Once housed the individual is provided with the intensive support that is often required by people who have been sleeping rough to help them sustain the tenancy. This approach has had a high success rate worldwide, but requires access to homes to work. So far the Dublin Housing First project has provided permanent homes for 63 people who were formerly rough sleeping.

Initially the Housing First project target was 100 tenancies, that has been increased to 300 under Rebuilding Ireland. The project currently has 67 rough sleepers housed at present.  The challenge faced by Focus Ireland and Peter McVerry Trust  is to scale up housing provision and overcome the acute lack of affordable housing  that has hindered the project to date.

Both organisations have worked with the project partners to put in place a programme to scale up to 300 units.  Focus Ireland stressed that to achieve this target a mix of tenancies across various areas in Dublin are required and these could be ring-fenced to ensure delivery.

Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said: “It is vital we always remember that behind every one of these numbers and percentages we are talking about is a man or woman who is sleeping rough on the street or on the floor in a night café.  This is wrong and totally unacceptable. While much good work is being done to prevent people from becoming homeless the constantly rocketing rents and a growing number of buy-to-let homes being either repossessed or sold is causing a constant rise in the numbers being forced into homelessness.”

Mr. Allen said: “There are over 15,000 buy-to-let landlords who are in arrears by over 2 years. Banks and financial institutions are repossessing these homes and evicting the tenants at a rate of 100 a month. We are calling on the Government to outlaw this practice and ensure that that where banks repossess such properties they sell them on with the tenant still in place.”

 For Information Contact: Roughan Mac Namara – Ph: 086 85 15 117

Dragons’ Den Star To Sell Dream Home on Aran Islands To help the homeless

 

29/11/2016 Dragon's Den star Barry O'Sullivan who is selling a dream home on the Aran Islands and donating the proceeds to Focus Ireland and COPE Galway through the new 'Home From Home' programme. The new "Home from Home" campaign is calling on the public to donate property or funds to support the provision of homes for the homeless. Pictured at the launch of the programme  are (l-r) CEO of COPE Galway Jacquie Horan, Dragon's Den star Barry O'Sullivan and Focus Ireland's Life President and Founder Sr.Stan and  at the launch of  © Patrick Bolger Photography

 

Focus Ireland and COPE Galway today announced a campaign to allow high net worth individuals to help with the homelessness crisis. The “Home from Home” campaign encourages people who are in a position to do so, to donate properties or funds to support the provision of homes to the homeless. Every €20,000 each organisation receives can be leveraged to purchase or refurbish a home (through borrowing and other government funding schemes). In the first donation to the scheme, Dragons’ Den businessman Barry O’Sullivan is selling a dream home on the Aran Islands and donating the proceeds to two homeless charities – Focus Ireland and COPE Galway – to help families escape homelessness.

The sale will provide Focus Ireland and COPE Galway with the deposits to purchase at least 15 homes for families who are homeless. The cost-efficient programs in place at both charities mean that every €20,000 each organisation receives can be leveraged to purchase and refurbish one home. The balance of the purchase price will come through borrowing and government funding schemes – which are extremely difficult to avail of without the ‘€20,000’ initial leverage.

The result will be that Barry’s very generous gift from the proceeds of one house will help to deliver homes for up to 15 families or individuals who are currently homeless. This could be even more depending on the final sale value of Mr. O’Sullivan’s property. The house he is putting up for auction is a stunning 6 bed property which enjoys magnificent views of Kilmurvey beach and the wild Atlantic on Inishmore.
Commenting on the generous act Focus Ireland’s Life President and Founder Sr. Stan said: “I would like to extend our sincere thanks to Barry and his family for this really lovely gift. I thank him not only on behalf of Focus Ireland but on behalf of the families who will have a place to call home because of this great act.”
She added: “It is vital that both Focus Ireland and COPE Galway have programs like “Home from Home” in place that enable donations such as this to be leveraged with other funds to provide much needed housing. Large donors often want to get involved but may be thinking: ‘What can I do to really help?’ Well this is a perfect example of how such a donation will help both our charities to deliver homes for families and their children to escape the trauma of being homeless.”

Meanwhile, CEO of COPE Galway Jacquie Horan says that the numbers of people facing homelessness in Galway is the worst she can remember in her 20 years with COPE Galway – and the biggest challenge now is getting access to housing. So the value of this house in providing a further 15 or more houses for homeless people is amazing. Maybe it might even plant a seed for other such donations.”

It is for this reason that both charities encouraged Barry to go public with his donation. Because of his own high profile associated in the main with Dragons’ Den, it is hoped that this will raise the profile of the property, and encourage others who may be in a similar position to consider doing something similar.

The generous act by the international businessman comes as family homelessness is at record levels with over 1,200 families and 2,400 children facing Christmas in emergency homeless accommodation. Focus Ireland is the lead homeless organisation working with families in Dublin, while COPE Galway works with homeless families and individuals in Galway City & County.

The house is going to auction on December 16th with O’Donnellan & Joyce Auctioneers in their Wild Atlantic Way Christmas Property Auction at 2pm in the Harbour Hotel, New Dock Road, Galway. The property is guiding with a minimum value of €300,000 however both charities are hopeful that it will raise even more given the spirit of generosity associated with this gift, coupled with the highest ever levels of need for housing for people experiencing homelessness in Ireland this Christmas.
Barry O’Sullivan has been on the board of management of COPE Galway from 2009 to 2015. He has always been a strong and generous advocate in support of the work of the organisation. During this time he also became part of the Dragons’ Den series and used this platform to promote COPE Galway and to support entrepreneurs with a social conscience.
Mr. O’Sullivan explained his reasons for selling the house and also making his generous offer to help work by the two leading charities. He said: “I know from my work with COPE Galway the terrible trauma families who are homeless go through. I also know charities like Focus Ireland and COPE Galway help many families and individuals to secure a home and escape from being homeless. I am happy to be in a position to sell this house and donate the proceeds to the Home from Home program.”
Barry has spent most of his career in Silicon Valley and is CEO of Altocloud, a tech company with bases in Silicon Valley and Ireland. Focus Ireland is a national organisation that believes everybody has a right to a place they can call home. COPE Galway is a local organisation whose vision is improved quality of life in a home of your own.

Anybody wishing to donate to the Home from Home program should contact Focus Ireland or COPE Galway.

COPE Galway
copegalway.ie
The vision of COPE Galway is an improved quality of life, in a home of your own for people affected by homelessness, women & children experiencing domestic violence …

Focus Ireland Report 67 Families Became Homeless In Dublin In October

Focus Ireland reported today that 67  families became newly homeless in October and were referred to its family services in Dublin.

The charity issued the figures as the Dublin Region Homeless Executive report that the total number of people who are homeless in Dublin has shot up by 35% in the last year. The DRHE figures show that there were a total of 5,146 adults and children in emergency accommodation last month, a 35% increase in the year.

Mike Allen, Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy said: “It is terrible to see that during the last year the number of children who are homeless and living in emergency accommodation in Dublin has increased by 57% from 1343 to 2,110.  Christmas should be one of the happiest times of year for children and their families. However, it truly awful to realise that over 2,500 children will be homeless in Ireland on Christmas day this year.  This is wrong and it is totally unacceptable.”

Mr. Allen went on to highlight that in a time of such crisis it can be hard to remember that the situation could be much worse as he said: “We are proud to say that the first 10 months of the year, Focus Ireland has supported 230 families (with 450 children) to move out of homelessness into secure homes (in partnership with the DRHE and local authorities). However, as at least two families are still becoming homeless every single day the crisis continues to deepen.”

The charity said that while much good work is being done to prevent families from becoming homeless constantly rocketing rents and a growing number of buy-to-let homes being either repossessed or sold is causing a constant rise in the numbers being forced into homelessness. Focus Ireland renewed its call for urgent action from the Government to stem the level of evictions, particularly from ‘buy-to-let’ landlords to stem the homeless crisis.

Mr. Allen said: “There are over 15,000 buy-to-let landlords who are in arrears by over 2 years. Banks and financial institutions are repossessing these homes and evicting the tenants at a rate of 100 a month. We are calling on the Government to outlaw this practice and ensure that that where banks repossess such properties they sell them on with the tenant still in place.”   Meanwhile, Focus Ireland said it relies on donations at this time of year more than ever to raise vital funds for its work. The charity appealed to people to please give what they can afford to support its urgent Christmas appeal.  People can donate at  www.focusireland.ie or 1850 204 205.

Contact: Michelle Moran: 086 468 0442

Focus Ireland Launches Christmas Campaign

Sr. Stan launched Focus Ireland’s Christmas appeal today with a hard-hitting campaign that  highlights a record number of  over 2,400 children and nearly 1200 families are  homeless nationwide.  The new campaign makes an urgent appeal to people  to donate to support Focus Ireland’s work challenging homelessness.  The campaign features  TV, radio and outdoor ads and runs over the coming weeks leading up to Christmas. The outdoor ad features a mother and her child alongside the stark line: “Homelessness. We can’t  live like this anymore.”

Focus Ireland launched the campaign outside Government Buildings in Dublin with an admobile featuring the charity’s new poster.  Sr. Stan spoke passionately of the terrible impact being homeless has on children – and families – as she said: “Christmas should be one of the happiest times of year for children and their families. However, it breaks my heart to think that up to 2,500 children will be homeless on Christmas day this year.”

She added: “I know from meeting families who are homeless that we support it’s the children who feel it the worst. Many times a family who are homeless are often squeezed into one hotel room – 3 or 4 people in one room, nowhere to cook or for children to play. There are also many single people and couples homeless and they all need a place to call home.”

Sr. Stan highlighted the vital role Focus Ireland’s lifeline services play in supporting people   as   Focus Ireland reported that its family team services have supported   230 families and just under 450 children   in Dublin to secure a home and escape from the trauma of homelessness in the first 10 months of this year   *   ( * In partnership with the Dublin Region Homeless Executive and local authorities) The charity also supports hundreds of families who are still homeless and  living in hotels and b&bs.

One mother Gillian who was homeless but has now secured a home with support of Focus Ireland said: “When you have a home you don’t realise how lucky you are…. my daughter was only two weeks old when we became homeless,  I don’t think I’d even be here now if it wasn’t for Focus Ireland,  I wake up every day now and  think ‘I have a home,”

Sr. Stan said: “We are working hard to support these families every day and not just at Christmas but we depend on donations at this time of year more than ever to raise vital funds so our services can cope with the rising demand. I am asking people to please give what they can afford to support our urgent Christmas appeal.  Any donation will help us to directly support these families and also help fund our work to prevent other families and single people from becoming homeless in the first place. People can donate at  www.focusireland.ie   or 1850 204 205.”

The charity said this Christmas will be a very challenging time as demand for its services continues to rise following the charity’s busiest year ever last year as it supported over 12,500 people who were homeless or at risk. Focus Ireland stressed that every euro donated counts in the battle against homelessness as 89 cents of every euro received by the charity goes directly to services to support people who are homeless and those at risk.

Focus Ireland said its new campaign aims to keep homelessness firmly on the public and political agenda in the countdown to Christmas.  The charity works to support over 12,500 people each year and aims to  provide 600 more homes by 2019 to help tackle the growing homeless crisis. Focus Ireland aims to deliver 150 homes a year over the next four years – to double its current housing stock.

Glen Hansard Teams Up With Focus Ireland and The High Hopes Choir to Show Human Faces Behind the Homeless Crisis

Singer Glen Hansard paid a special visit to Focus Ireland’s Coffee Shop in Temple Bar today to meet people and hear some of the human stories behind the homeless crisis.

The singer also teamed up with the High Hopes Choir to perform the song “Hey Day”” by the late Mic Christopher, the singer who was a close friend of Glen Hansard.

Watch here

The High Hopes choir is made up mostly by people who were formerly homeless but now have their own home due to the work of Focus Ireland and other agencies. Glen spoke about his visit: “ It’s great to meet people who have overcome homelessness and now have a place to call home.  It’s important to always remember that homelessness is a stage in someone’s life and not a destination.”

He added: “That’s why we wanted to sing “Hey Day” by my friend Mic as it’s a song about hope.  It’s a beautiful song that asks why can’t each day be better or at least as good as the day before….that there doesn’t have to be one time in somebody’s life that is great and then it’s downhill.  People who are going through tough times need something or someone to give them hope.  To show them there will be some light ahead when they can leave the bad times behind.”

The singer’s visit comes as latest figures show a record total of more than 6,700 people homeless nationwide. This means there are now 1,173 families and 2426 children homeless nationwide.  More than 1,000 of these families are in Dublin. Focus Ireland said that, while its family support team supports at least one family to move on from homelessness every day the reality is that inadequate prevention strategies means one or two other families  become homeless that same day – so the crisis deepens. The charity said more can – and must – be done to end the nightmare of homelessness for so many families, children and individuals.

Focus Ireland CEO Ashley Balbirnie said: “Many of us are starting to think about Christmas when we can spend more time with family and friends and enjoy this special time of year at home.  We all recognise that there is something deeply wrong with our society when nearly 7,000 people don’t have a place they can call home this Christmas. We are not just talking about numbers and statistics here. There’s a human face and a human story behind each statistic. Behind every figure is a real person…..a father, a mother, a daughter or son, …each of them suffering the ongoing trauma of being homeless and is hoping to find a better future.”

He added: “Our services are needed now more than ever so we can support families and children if they are homeless and also work to prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place. Focus Ireland relies on public donations to help fund our 70 lifeline services that support over 12,500 people each year who are homeless or at risk of losing their homes.  People can support our work at 1850 204 205 or  www.focusireland.ie/donate

Focus Ireland highlighted that a total of 89 cents from every euro it receives is spent on services to combat and prevent homelessness.  Focus Ireland repeated is support for the Government strategy on homelessness but stressed that the crisis will only be brought under control when effective action is taken to reduce the number of families – and single people – becoming homeless every month.

Glen Hansard plays Vicar St in Dublin on Nov 28 and again on the 29th when it will be a special night featuring the songs of his friend Mic Christopher to mark the 15th anniversary of his untimely death in 2001.

Contact Michelle Moran – 086 468 0442 or Roughan Mac Namara – 086 85 15 117

Latest Focus Ireland Figures Report 65 Families Became Newly Homeless in Dublin in September

Focus Ireland issued new figures today which report that 65 families became newly homeless in Dublin in September as the crisis continues to deepen. These latest figures mean that 736 families with 1389 children have become homeless in Dublin in the first 9 months of this year.

The charity issued its Sept report for Dublin as the Government also released its national figures today which show a record total of 6,709 people are now homeless nationwide. This means at a national level there are now 1173 families and 2426 children homeless.

Focus Ireland said that while it is supporting at least one family to move on from homelessness every day this year the reality is that inadequate prevention strategies means more than one other family becomes homeless that same day. Focus Ireland welcomed Government work on the issue but stressed that the crisis will only be ended when more action is taken to cut the constant number of families – and single people – becoming homeless every month.

Focus Ireland said more can – and must – be done to end the nightmare of homelessness for so many families and children.
Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said: “We need to stop the constant flow of families and single people becoming homeless. Our frontline staff have seen first-hand that the two key reasons families are becoming homeless is one, landlords are selling up and getting out of the business, and two, rising rents. Both these issues are within the power of the government to tackle and while they have taken some actions they have clearly not done enough, fast enough .” He added: “We have to remember that we are not just talking about figures and statistics here. We must always highlight the human face behind each figure. Behind every figure is a person…a family..a man, a woman, a child…each of them who are suffering the ongoing trauma of being homeless every day.”

Focus Ireland said the Government must ensure that the strategy for the private rented market – that is currently being drafted as one of the pillars of Rebuilding Ireland – has to include measures to help stablise rents in the short-term.

He said: “There must also be action to stop the number of landlords leaving the business. The only step taken on this issue in the Budget was the 5% increased relief for landlords which is unlikely to change the mind of the increasing number of landlords selling – which is one of the main reasons many people are becoming homeless as many of the landlords are being forced to sell up by banks and other financial institutions.

“Most of these houses were purchased using special ‘buy to let’ mortgages. Now that the investment has gone wrong it should not be the tenant who suffers. The government should use the opportunity of the legislation now before the Dail to ensure that where a bank is repossessing a property from a ‘buy to let’ loan they must honour the tenancy agreement and sell the property as a rental with the tenant in place. “

These figures follow on from the Government’s Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness which aims to ensure by July next year hotels will only be used as emergency accommodation for families in limited circumstances. Focus Ireland said the continuing crisis highlights the scale of the challenge ahead for the Government if it is to reach this target.

Mr. Allen said: Although the Government’s Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness provides some direction on how we can deal with this crisis, there are real concerns that we have a broad framework rather than a detailed plan of action, particularly in relation to families. It is shocking to think that we now have a record number of more than 2,300 children living in emergency accommodation yet at present, the only real response to these families is the promise of better emergency accommodation in ‘rapid build housing.’

He added: “Focus Ireland is committed to working with the Government to tackle this crisis but we do not shy away from saying more can be done and more must be done now on this serious issue. We need clear targets and timelines for delivery of homes if we are to end the nightmare of homelessness for all the families and children around the country who are living through this trauma every single day.”

The charity said its new figures show that an average of 81 families have now become homeless each month so far in 2016 compared to 60 families per month last year. Focus Ireland said that while 65 families became newly homeless in Dublin in September the charity managed to support 49 families to secure a home during the month to allow these families to escape from homelessness.

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Contact Michelle Moran – Mobile: 086 468 0442 or Roughan Mac Namara – 086 85 15 117

Focus Ireland welcomes Positive Budget Measures But Warns More Action Vital To Halt Deepening Homeless Crisis

Focus Ireland said today’s Budget has some very positive measures that will help deliver the Government’s Housing and Homelessness plan but the charity warned that more immediate action is vital to halt the constant rise in the number of families becoming homeless.
The charity said that the commitment of €1.2 billion to allow for the implementation of the housing action plan is positive and “will help to put some flesh on the bones” of the Rebuilding Ireland plan and to enable the delivery of housing in the coming years.

Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said: “The Budget puts some welcome substance behind the long term strategy of Rebuilding Ireland but the measures to tackle the immediate crisis are far too modest. In particular the 5% increased relief for landlords seems unlikely to change the mind of the increasing number of landlords selling – which is one of the main reasons many people are becoming homeless. This relief already exists for landlords with social housing tenants. It is worrying not more was done on this issue as it would have a positive impact on the numbers becoming homeless if greater action had been taken to prevent more landlords from leaving the sector.”

Mr. Allen added: “The additional €28 million for emergency accommodation in the homeless budget is very welcome – However, all of this seems to be earmarked for more emergency beds. We must highlight that Focus Ireland first warned of a pending family homelessness crisis four years ago in our Pre-budget submission when 150 families were homeless. There are now 1150 families and over 2300 children homeless after insufficient effective action was taken in the last four Budgets. We must stress that what families – and many single people – who are homeless need is a place to call home. We also need more action outside of the Budget to halt the constant number of families and single people becoming homeless by greater investment in the types of prevention services that are already working.”

Focus Ireland also welcomed positive Budget news of some much needed additional supports for families and children who are homeless and added that these need to be put in place as a matter of urgency. Mr. Allen said: “This is very welcome – and not before time – as families and children who are homeless are living through awful hardship every day – often trapped in one room in a hotel room. At least this hardship will be eased a bit through the additional supports.”

Meanwhile, Focus Ireland said it remains highly concerned about the lack of provision for young people who are currently homeless – or at risk of becoming homeless – particularly those leaving the care system. Focus Ireland’s Pre-Budget Submission called for the government to allocate funds to ring-fence housing for these vulnerable young people to prevent them becoming homeless when they leave care.
Mr. Allen said: “This is something the Government could have done that would have helped to protect some of the most vulnerable young people leaving our care system. It is not a very high number of people who would require such support. This should have been done as some young people leaving care find it impossible – as they cannot find anywhere they can afford to rent so they are at a very real risk of becoming homeless. We see this happening every week. In truth it is a very disappointing budget for young people under 25 on welfare as they have seen an increase in their Jobseekers Allowance rate of only €2.70, as opposed to the €5 adults receive. Even though they are on a significantly decreased rate as is.”

Contact: Roughan Mac Namara – 086 85 15 117 or Michelle Moran – 086 468 0442