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.
2018 will see Focus Ireland work with over 15,000 people. Across Ireland 2018 has proven to be an even more difficult year for those experiencing homelessness. This year is seeing the largest ever increase in family homelessness. While a significant number of individuals and families have been supported to move on from homelessness, there have been a number of challenges that has seen homelessness increase again this year to new record highs. This review provides an outline of homelessness in Ireland in 2018.
The decision to remove over 1,600 people from the official homeless statistics undermined public confidence in the accuracy of housing and homeless statistics, reduced the credibility of important Government initiatives to tackle this national crisis, reduced our capacity to understand the changing nature of the crisis and distracted policy resources from issues of substance. These problems have been created as much by the piecemeal, unilateral manner in which the changes have been implemented as the changes themselves. The Department’s Report on the Categorisation of Emergency Accommodation in Monthly Homeless Reports does little to correct this damage or explain the rationale behind it.
Observations on the Homelessness Inter-Agency Group’s Report to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive’s Report to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.
This is Focus Ireland’s concise Pre-Budget Submission public document which outlines 14 key recommendations required to turn the tide of homelessness. Focus Ireland submitted our full range of Budget proposals in more detail to the Government in recently and these can also be accessed on this page.
Budgetary allocations are only one dimension of the actions we need to take to end the housing and homeless crisis. There are many actions that require reform of processes and legislation and Focus Ireland has addressed these aspects in other submissions and statements. In our 2019 Pre-Budget Submission we have, as much as is possible, concentrated on areas where we believe progress is being held back because of lack of finance, or where finance is required before the other barriers can be addressed.
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.
In response to a recent proposal to remove homelessness as a priority ground in the DCC Scheme of Letting Priorities, the Advocacy team have drafted this memo outlining our concerns about the proposal. These concerns are based on our experience as the city’s designated Family Homeless Action Team and over two decades working with the majority of homeless families. We recommend that the proposed changes be put on hold while their likely impact is assessed by an independent expert on homelessness.
In response to recent comments that homelessness in Ireland is low by international standards, the Advocacy team have developed this short briefing to distill the debate about how homelessness is measured and compared across countries. Focus Ireland has always claimed that homelessness is too high, that it could be much lower, and that is has increased significantly in recent years.
The Special Rapporteur on Housing sought submissions on designing and implementing effective human rights-based housing strategies. In this document we provide some insights into the current situation in Ireland and the human rights limitations of current strategies.
The Focus Ireland submission to the National Planning Framework argues that Ireland 2040 provides the opportunity to develop a roadmap for a national housing market that creates sustainable communities and services our entire society.
This is Focus Ireland’s concise Pre-Budget Submission public document which outlines 10 key actions required to turn the tide of homelessness. Focus Ireland submitted our full range of Budget proposals in more detail to the Government in recent months and these also be accessed on this page.
Focus Ireland believes that Budget 2018 will be an important marker as to whether the current minority Government has the resolve to end homelessness. Our submission sets out a series of effective measures with budgetary implications across the range of Government Departments which play a role in tackling the causes and effects of homelessness.
In order to tackle youth homelessness, we need to understand the pathways of young people into services, and their experiences. Research from other jurisdictions has shown that LGBT young people are over-represented in youth homelessness statistics. Focus Ireland's submission to the first LGBTI Youth Strategy advocates for research funding and an examination of youth service provision.
Given the current homelessness crisis, Focus Ireland welcomed the review of the Government's action plan, Rebuilding Ireland. Our submission calls for the State to take a much more direct role in delivering solutions. We also argue that any revised strategy should set out a clear vision to end homelessness within a specific timeframe.
Focus Ireland welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the review of recently introduced rent predictability measures and the Rent Pressure Zones (RPZ). Our submission responds to a number of questions posed by the Department and outlines some concerns about the implementation of the measures.
A high proportion of people facing homelessness previously resided in the private rented sector and this sector will continue to play a significant role in the Irish housing market into the future. Our submission sets out our analysis of current issues with the sector, and recommendations for improvement.
Focus Ireland, and others, are providing many vital services in cooperation with the State and Local Authorities. This document articulates the Focus Ireland Youth Housing Model which guides our approach to tackling youth homelessness. Our ultimate aim is to ensure that young people are prevented from becoming homeless or supported out of homelessness as quickly as possible.
Research has long established a relationship between socio-economic factors and homelessness, and as both cause and consequence of educational disadvantage. This paper aims to locate Focus Ireland's 'Education Matters' programme within the broader context of policy and practice to tackle educational disadvantage. This feeds into the organisation's approach in implementing a programme of monitoring and evaluation to capture outcomes and impact.
The Focus Ireland submission to the National Women's Strategy sought to ensure that the forthcoming strategy includes provisions specifically targeting women experiencing homelessness. In the document we examine the extent of women's homelessness, the distinct pathways of women into homelessness, and women's experiences of homelessness, including stigma and discrimination.
Focus Ireland was invited to present before the Committee on Social Protection in relation to 'lone parents and homelessness'. Our written submission considers the existing data on one-parent families and homelessness, as well as the reasons these families are more at risk of homelessness. We outline the experience of one-parent families residing in emergency accommodation, and advance policy proposals we feel would help this cohort, as well as families more generally.
Focus Ireland held a briefing on family homelessness for members of the Oireachtas in November 2016. We presented on what happens when a family becomes homeless, the causes of family homelessness and what further action is needed to end the crisis.
Focus Ireland drafted a legislative amendment to the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2016. This amendment restricts the ability of buy to let landlords to terminate a tenancy on the basis that they are selling the property. The property can still be sold, but this must be done with the tenant in situ. Increasing numbers of families presenting to Focus Ireland services have received notices of termination because their landlord is selling the property. It is hoped that this amendment will keep individuals and families in secure accommodation, and prevent homelessness.
Focus Ireland's submission to the review of the Aftercare policy and procedure is based on the experience of services across the country, and is drawn from daily engagement with young people. The document outlines the gaps, blocks and issues in the implementation of the policy.
Focus Ireland sets out a range of measures needed to create a viable and sustainable private rental market. The Department of Housing requested submissions on Pillar 4 of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan and aims to release a comprehensive rental strategy before the end of 2016. Focus Ireland recommends increasing tenant security by indexing rent increases, creating longer tenancies and limiting the ability of landlords to sell with vacant possession.
The Department of Social Protection invited submissions in advance of their Pre-Budget Forum, which took place on Friday, 22nd July 2016. Focus Ireland's submission refers to basic social welfare rates and the need to protect young people leaving care from homelessness. We also advocate for preventative policies in respect of people leaving direct provision and single parents. Our full Pre-Budget Submission will include broader fiscal policy recommendations.
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs have been tasked with drafting the chapter of the Action Plan which deals with Children and Youth Homelessness. Focus Ireland sets out a range of measures needed to support children who are homeless with their families, as well as young people and children who are homeless on their own. These include ring-fenced social housing for care-leavers and additional educational welfare supports for children in emergency accommodation.
Following the publication of the Committee on Housing and Homelessness' report, Focus Ireland sets out additional measures required. This submission includes an emphasis on prevention and the importance of the 50% social housing allocation for households that are homeless or otherwise vulnerable.
The Department of Education invited submissions on the development of the Strategy for Education and Skills 2016-2018. Focus Ireland outlines policy changes which we believe would support children and young people and enable them to achieve their potential while experiencing homelessness. We advocate for funding to enable children to attend their school of choice and increased investment in nutrition.
Focus Ireland sets out a range of measures which can be introduced immediately to tackle the housing and homelessness crisis – some of them having immediate effect while others will take time to have impact. The submission deals primarily with issues directly related to housing, but notes that a wider range of measures, including measures related to mental health, drugs policy, justice and domestic violence, are required for a comprehensive approach to homelessness.
Focus Ireland’s 5 Point Plan to tackle the housing & homeless crisis has been issued to all party leaders calling for its inclusion in the next Programme For Government. These plan includes demands calling for the next Government to set a firm target date for ending family homelessness and also a commitment to build 40,000 social homes over the next 5 years.
Focus Ireland has lobbied all parties and key independents in recent months and submitted a comprehensive policy document to each outlining actions that need to be taken by each Government Minister in the next Government. This document breaks down the specific actions required to be taken by each Department in order to end long-term homelessness.
Our submission in advance of Budget 2016. Focus Ireland has said the Government can take action in the coming Budget to dramatically cut the record number of families losing their homes and becoming homeless every month. The charity made the claim as it launched its Pre-Budget Submission as its figures show a record total of 83 families became homeless in August in Dublin.
The Focus Ireland submission in advance of Budget 2015 advocates for measures to increase housing supply by incentivising landlords and investing capital in the construction of properties. we also argue that the rapid increase in family homelessness is caused by spiralling rents. We advocate for increased rent supplement caps and rent regulation.
Our submission to the Government in advance of Budget 2014 focuses on protecting social services following repeated cut-backs during the recession. We also advocate for targeted stimulus investment to help create jobs and address social needs. We note that homeless services must be protected as the number of people experiencing homelessness continues to increase.