Homelessness Charity Sees 25% Increase In Demand

The number of people availing of a major Irish homelessness charity increased by 25% from 2012 - 2013, the charity said.

Focus Ireland services rose to over 10,000 over the course of the year.

The charity said one of the main reasons for the rise was an "unprecedented increase in families accessing homeless services".

Over the year, the charity opened new Advice and Information Centres in Kilkenny, Cork, Limerick, Wexford and Sligo, while expanding existing services in Dublin and Waterford.

"Six years of austerity and cutbacks have taken their toll, as the building of social housing has more or less ground to a halt," said Mark Byrne,

Acting Chief Executive of Focus Ireland.

"The overall lack of supply of social housing and rocketing rents in the private rented market have resulted in a critical shortage of homes. The number of families becoming homeless each month in Dublin doubled in 2013. The vast majority of these came from the private rented sector and had never been homeless before."

2013 saw the charity's income remain level with 2012, albeit over 15% below what is required to respond to the increased demand, Focus said.

The charity raised over €5.4m from the public, companies and philanthropy.

"As well as those sleeping rough, we have all kinds of people, including a shocking number of children, without a safe and secure place to call home, and it is getting worse every day," said Sr Stanislaus Kennedy,

Founder and Life President of Focus Ireland.

"One family is becoming homeless every day in Dublin alone. The problem is nationwide, as more people are at risk of losing their homes than ever before.

"This is totally unacceptable and is causing terrible and, I have no doubt, long-term damage to many families, children, couples and individuals.

This isn’t just happening out of the blue. We stopped building social housing years ago and, instead, the State has been paying private landlords to supply accommodation for people in need of housing. This practice is fraught with difficulties. One serious problem is that state- subsidised rents are still set too low to be attractive to landlords, and the result is that people already in financial distress have to top up their rent allowance to meet the rent. But they can’t keep this up, they run into difficulties, and they lose their homes."


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