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Number of homeless increases again

By Ann Marie Foley - 02 October, 2019

The number of families losing their homes each week shows the homeless crisis still isn’t under control, Focus Ireland has said.

Releasing the latest homeless figures for August, the charity said that targets in the Government’s strategy on tackling homeless, ‘Rebuilding Ireland’, must be reviewed so that more social housing is built as a matter of urgency.

“We have to ask ourselves as a society why so many of our children are being put through this trauma in the first place? While other children were enjoying our glorious summer, 466 children faced the anxiety and fear of losing their homes, while many others continued to live out their lives in hubs, hotels rooms and other unsuitable facilities,” said Pat Dennigan, CEO, Focus Ireland.

The official figures from the Department of Housing show an increase of 63 people availing of homeless services in August, totalling 10,338 compared to 10,275 in July.

The figures also reveal that the total number of homeless children now stands at 3,848 (in 1,726 families).

Other figures from Focus Ireland show that 466 children (in 227 families) lost their homes in Dublin during July and August this year.

The charity said that much work is being done across the housing and homeless sector and welcomed the announcement by Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, last week of the rise in the number of families exiting homelessness.

2,825 adults and their dependents exited homelessness into a tenancy during the first six months of the year.

However, Focus Ireland called on the Government to use Budget 2020 be more ambitious in the number of houses to be built.

In particular, it said the Government should increase the proportion of social and affordable housing from the Land Development Agency.

Currently this is 10 per cent social housing, 30 per cent affordable, and 60 per cent market.

Focus Ireland suggests this should be 15 per cent social, 15 per cent cost rental, 30 per cent affordable for sale and 40 per cent market.

“The Government should also act on the ESRI recommendation for a more aggressive tax on building land which is being left idle,” said Pat Dennigan.

He added that while more homes are being built than a few years ago, targets alone are not enough to deal with the scale of the crisis.

Separately, the cross-border homelessness charity Depaul has highlighted an 18 per cent drop in the number of people leaving homeless services.

Depaul helped 636 people move away from homelessness in 2018 however, in 2017 Depaul saw some 774 people move away from homelessness through its services.

“It is incredibly frustrating when you have helped people to a point where they are ready to live independently only to find they have nowhere to go. The lack of housing supply is stymieing people’s ability to move on from homelessness. It is disheartening for everybody involved, particularly when our aim is to end homelessness and see people living back in their communities,” said David Carroll, CEO, Depaul.

The figures were revealed at Depaul Annual Report 2018 launch which also showed that the number of single homeless people has grown by 70% since December 2014.

“Single people still remain the biggest cohort within the homeless population and the ones likely to remain homeless for longer periods. We must begin to put a greater emphasis on single homeless people, particularly those with complex needs,” said David Carroll.

The number of single people in homelessness currently is 3,945. In December 2014 the number of single homeless people stood at 2,310.

A recent study into why people are becoming homeless and accessing emergency accommodation carried out by Depaul revealed that 86 per cent of those surveyed were first time homeless. Of those surveyed 60 per cent were male, and 81 per cent were single (not in a relationship).

Some 77 per cent of those surveyed cited a 1-bed property as their ideal accommodation.

The average rent for a 1-bed apartment in Dublin is over €1,500 according to a recent Daft.ie rental survey. However, homeless housing assistance payment (HAP) amounts to €990 per month.

At the end of August 2019 there were just over 1,500 properties for rent available.

The Depaul annual report, which was launched on 1 October 2019, stated that the charity helped 4,333 men, women and children during 2018, an increase of 9 per cent on 2017.

Depaul provided a total of 604 beds each night.

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