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Focus Ireland say urgent action is needed on homelessness

By Sean Ryan - 27 October, 2017

Homeless charity, Focus Ireland, say the homeless figures for September 2017, announced by Minister Eoghan Murphy show yet another record number of men, women and children experiencing homelessness – at 8,374 people  (compared to 8,270 in August 2017, and 6,709 in September 2016). There is also a record number of homeless children – rising from 3,048 in August to 3,124 in September – making up over 37% of the total homeless figure.

“The Minister rightly highlights the extraordinary work which local authorities, homeless organisations and the Department are doing in collaboration, to support record numbers of households to move out of homelessness. However, far too little is being done to prevent people becoming homeless in the first place,” said Mike Allen, Director of Advocacy at Focus Ireland.

The single largest reason for families becoming homeless is that their landlord is either selling up or moving members of their own family into the accommodation. Under current legislation these are perfectly legal reasons to terminate a tenancy contract and render a family homeless.  In September 1989, families (with 192 children) became newly homeless in Dublin, with a further five families which had recently left homelessness losing their new homes and being forced to return to homelessness.

The charity which was founded by Sr Stanislaus Kennedy, says that while the small drop in family homelessness in Dublin (a fall of 8 families in September) is welcome, it is more than off-set by the rapidly escalating family homelessness in other cities and towns.

Mike Allen said, “We have been pleading with Minister after Minister to close off this loop-hole and protect families in their homes, but with no result. Unless action is taken to deal with this issue, all our efforts to support families out of homelessness will be futile. Minister Murphy has been quoted as saying that tackling homelessness is like trying to empty the bath with the taps full on. Why he has not taken the opportunity to turn off at least one of the taps is hard to understand. We have provided the Minister with a carefully crafted legal amendment which would close off this loop-hole and we are calling for him now to introduce it into the Dail, where we believe he will find widespread support.”

Focus Ireland renewed its call for a dedicated strategy to tackle family homelessness which would include an objective that no family would spend more than six months in homeless accommodation, and called on the Minister to start publishing information on the length of time that families are remaining homeless.

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