By Susan Gately - 17 September, 2016
The homeless agency Focus Ireland has called for funds to be made available urgently to fast-track the delivery of housing to help tackle the deepening family homeless crisis.
Launching its Pre-Budget Submission yesterday, it pointed out that in August, 72 new families became homeless in Dublin.
The agency said its family teams were managing to support a family a day to move out of homelessness (in partnership with the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and Local Authorities), but usually on the very day one family came out of homelessness, another three became homeless and the agency could not keep pace.
671 families with 1,257 children have become homeless in Dublin in the first eight months of this year, according to Focus Ireland, an average of 84 per month compared to just over 60 per month last year.
“Our Pre-Budget Submission outlines key measures which Michael Noonan can take to fast-track delivery of housing so we can really start to tackle this terrible crisis to ensure that families – and individuals – who were made homeless in the crisis are not trapped in emergency accommodation for years,” said Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy, Mike Allen.
The agency, which was founded by Sr Stanislaus Kennedy, says Budget 2017 must adopt the Housing Finance Agency’s proposal that it becomes the main source of lending to Local Authorities so they can more quickly secure funding to build housing.
“The current funding process is too slow and complex due to the Government policy of ensuring all such investment is “off the Government books.”
“For years now we have been stuck in the deeply frustrating maze in which the Government keep insisting that money is no problem yet the Local Authorities tell us the systems are too complex for them to access the money to deliver homes which are urgently needed,” commented Mr Allen.
Focus Ireland’s submission also calls for an end to the system where many families who are recognised as homeless by local authorities are told they must find their own emergency accommodation.
Describing the system as “not fit for purpose” they said it led to a situation where families and their children were put at risk of sleeping rough when they could not find emergency accommodation.
Another key recommendation of their submission is for the government to provide additional funding for the over 2,000 children and their families living in hotel rooms and B&Bs to cover expenses like school bus passes and early support in education.
“This was promised in the Government’s Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness within 80 days of the Government coming to office, but perhaps most people don’t realise they haven’t happened yet,” said Mr Allen.
“These families are already suffering greatly as they are stuck in homeless accommodation with no idea when they will get a home. Not having the money to get across town to school and not being able to find support with children upset by their experiences put further cruel burdens on these parents.”