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Focus Ireland reveals number of women affected by homelessness doubles

By Sean Ryan - 25 March, 2017

Irish homeless charity Focus Ireland has revealed that there has been a surge in women who have become homeless over the past two years.

Focus Ireland, which was founded in 1969 by Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, a member of the congregation of Religious Sisters of Charity, recently marked International Women’s Day by highlighting a 96 per cent increase in the number of women who are homeless in Ireland, and stated that this number has nearly doubled over the last two years.

The charity revealed that in January 2015 there were 1,017 women who were homeless, but by January of 2017 this had nearly doubled to just under 2,000 (1,997). During the same period, the number of men who were homeless had shot up by 40 per cent from 1,968 to 2,763.

The figures show that as the housing and homeless crisis has deepened, the face of homelessness has significantly changed in the last two years alone. Worryingly, the figure for children who are homeless has increased threefold, from 865 in 2015 to 2,407 in 2017.

Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said in a statement that “The housing crisis has seen the crisis continue to grow to unprecedented levels as a record number of 7,167 people are now homeless in Ireland. One of the striking aspects of this is the increasing and terrible burden of homelessness that is visited on women and children. Latest figures show women now account for 42% of the number of adult homeless and this has increased from 34% over the last two years alone.”

He added: “In light of the rising number of women and children who are homeless, one thing we really need to change is that there is practically no mention of women in homelessness policy. We need government housing and homeless policy to have a greater knowledge of the often specific pressures that affect women and can cause them to become homeless. This would help all work towards preventing homelessness from happening in the first place or where it does occur to ensure that it is for as short a time as possible.”

The latest figures come on top of figures revealed by government in January which show a new record high of 7,167 homeless adults and children in January of this year compared with 7,148 in December – and a rise of a quarter since the same period last year, when 5,715 were homeless.

On a positive note, however, the overall number of families in homelessness dropped by 33 to 1,172 families. Last month, the Minister for Housing Simon Coveney said the figures showed the success of the drive to ensure that more families were exiting homelessness than entering it.

Mr Coveney said the figures “reflect the work that is being done to ensure that sufficient beds are in place for rough sleepers and the drive to ensure that more families are exiting homelessness than are entering it. Last year in excess of 2,700 families exited homelessness and the level of ambition is greater again this year.”

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