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25% rise in those seeking Focus Ireland’s help

By Ann Marie Foley - 24 July, 2014

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Focus Ireland supported over 10,000 people who were homeless or at risk of losing their homes in 2013 compared to 8,000 in 2012.

During the first six months of 2014 the charity has already helped 8,000 people.

Speaking at the launch of Focus Ireland’s Annual Report 2013, Life President and Founder Sr Stanislaus Kennedy said, “While the Government accepted before the elections in May that the housing and homeless situation is at crisis point we have yet to see the urgent response a crisis demands.”

She added that the situation now is getting worse all around the country.

“One family a day loses their home and becomes homeless in Dublin alone,” she warned.

Last month almost all of the 39 families who lost their homes in the private rented sector, did so because the shortage of accommodation had increased rents.

The current rent supplement does not cover such rises accord to Sr Stan. Focus Ireland is calling on the Government to raise rent supplement rates on Budget Day.

“The simple fact is that Government policy on rent supplement is one of the immediate causes of the sharp rise of family homelessness in Ireland. The Government could stop many families from losing their homes with a stroke of a pen tomorrow,” Sr Stan explained.

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Speaking at the launch, acting CEO of Focus Ireland, Mark Byrne said that there was a sharp 25% increase in the number of people his charity supported last year as more people than ever were at risk of losing their home.

“The rising demand for support is continuing as we have supported 8,000 people up to the end of June this year.”

“We have families coming to us every day who have lost their home and in many cases the best we can do is get them into a B&B or hotel so they are off the streets. This is not acceptable,” he said.

Focus Ireland has asked for an investment of €500 million in the Budget to provide at least 3,000 homes and also much needed jobs to help boost the economy.

The charity welcomed the Government’s review of rent supplement in line with real rents, but said the situation deteriorated during the review, so the process needs to be speeded up.

The Government should also bring in rent control to keep rents in line with inflation according to Focus Ireland.

The charity highlighted a lack of delivery of housing, stating there are still up to 5,000 people who are homeless while just under 100,000 households on housing waiting listings nationwide.

All this points to the difficulty the Government will have in meeting its target to end long-term homeliness by the end of 2016.

The charity also called on the new Minister of Environment Alan Kelly and Minister of State (with Special Responsibility for Housing) Paudie Coffey to ensure the Government follows up on its pre-election commitment to tackle the housing and homelessness crisis.

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