Our Advocacy Team campaigns for policy reform aimed at preventing individuals and families becoming, remaining or returning to homelessness. Critical to this task is the need to demonstrate the effectiveness of a particular policy and communicate that evidence to key audiences, such as the Oireachtas, national and local government, the statutory sector, other voluntary bodies and the public. Focus Ireland has submitted over 70 policy submissions to Government and relevant policy groups since 2000, as well as joint submissions in collaboration with other voluntary and statutory bodies. Focus Ireland’s policy work is supported by funding from the Pobal Scheme to Support National Organisations (SNNO) and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.
Recent Homelessness Figures have been produced which have excluded a number of households, it appears the majority because of the type of emergency accommodation they are accommodated in. Following this the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy TD, has indicated that a review is being undertaken in relation to the methodology for compiling the official statistics on homelessness. Focus Ireland believe that regular, reliable and transparent data on homelessness is essential both for national policy and practice, but also for our own understanding of the impact of our services. We have participated actively in all previous reviews of how homeless statistics are collated, and in that light, put forward a submission for consideration by the Minster and his department during the current review.
Focus Ireland believes that the current legislative framework underpinning homeless services is outdated and does not adequately protect the most vulnerable. In this submission to the Law Reform Commission, we outline the elements of the legislation which we believe should be amended, as well as areas where additional legal protection may be needed.
Focus Ireland welcomes the review of the Child Care Act 1991. Our experience shows us that in order for children to be safe and protected, their rights must be enumerated in legislation and those rights must be respected by all those involved in decision-making which impacts the child. Our submission to DCYA calls for an increased emphasis on prevention and early intervention, improved aftercare planning and provision, and support for children experiencing homelessness with their families.
Focus Ireland’s research work aims to support and inform the organisation’s provision of housing and services to people out-of-home and its lobbying, campaigning, policy and education functions through the production of topical, relevant and methodologically-sound research.
The growth in the number of families in excess of 24 months in homelessness in the Dublin should be one of the key indicators of concern. There must be an imperative on the state to ensure that housing options and any necessary supports are put in place to facilitate them to move to independent living. In addition given the growth in family homelessness in the rest of Ireland there is a growing need for a greater publication of data about the causal factors and duration of family homelessness beyond the Dublin region, and a roll out of policies which have been successful in Dublin (such as Homeless HAP, and pre-qualification for HHAP) to other major towns and cities.
Every three months, Focus Ireland Research Team conducts telephone surveys with families presenting as homeless to understand the root causes of their homelessness, their housing histories and key demographic details. In an effort to capture families’ routes out of homelessness, we conducted an exercise by tracking the families who participated in March 2016 telephone survey through PASS database (Homeless Services Management System). During this month, 70 families were surveyed (representing 83% of all families who presented as homeless within the Dublin region that month).
This study presents key findings from a short quantitative survey conducted by telephone with 27 families who presented as homeless in the Dublin region during June 2017. Similar to previous waves of data collection, 70% of families reported their last stable home was in the private rented sector. Issues around affordability, landlords leaving the sector, relationship breakdown, and substandard accommodation were key triggers into homelessness.
Focus Ireland is committed to regular evaluations of its work and services. Evaluations help us to assess the quality and effectiveness of our work. The services we provide have continually been adapted to suit the changing needs of our customers and to provide the best possible services.
The innovative is a collaboration between Focus Ireland, Tusla and Limerick City and Council, with the aim if of providing homes for vulnerable young people along with the vital support to help them sustain their tenancies as they make the transition into adulthood. The independent evaluation was carried out by Eilis Lawlor and Niamh Bowen from the UK based 'Just Economics.'
Focus Ireland’s ‘My Home, My Choice’ project – a project funded by Genio – was established in 2012. It supports individuals with a diagnosed mental health diagnosis and who are recognised as having a housing need by their local authority. Focus Ireland commissioned independent research consultancy Quality Matters to conduct a financial savings review of ‘My Home, My Choice’ project.
The Support to Live Independently (SLÍ) initiative is a visiting support service to those with low or moderate needs who have secured independent accommodation after leaving homeless services. The aims of the scheme are to support homeless people to move on from homelessness to living independently, and to assist with reintegration into the local community.