Charity Urges New TDs To End Homelessness

Four new TDs who entered the Dáil this week have been urged to make ending the housing crisis a key priority, as new figures reveal a record total of 10,514 people homeless.

The number of homeless in Ireland has shot up by a staggering 55% since the last general election in February 2016, when 5,811 were homeless.

The Department of Housing figures shows a record total of 10,514 people homeless in October – this is a rise of 117 people compared to 10,397 homeless in September. The total number of people homeless has now been over 10,000 for the 9th consecutive month and Focus Ireland said this clearly shows the Government's Rebuilding Ireland housing strategy needs to be radically revised.

The charity also noted the welcome fall in the number of people counted as rough sleeping but expressed concern that the methodology in counting rough sleepers appears to have been altered, undermining the comparability with the 20 year series of rough sleeping information for Dublin, and the Government's claim that rough sleeping is at its lowest level since 2015.

Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan explained how many families are bracing themselves for dealing with harrowing new realities as they face into their first Christmas homeless. He said: "There's now over 10,500 people homeless and it is heart breaking to see nearly 4,000 of these are children. Many of these families had their own home last year and will now be spending Christmas with their children stuck in a cramped hotel room or other emergency accommodation. Many others are facing a second or third Christmas without a home. Hotel rooms – and homeless hubs – are no places for children to be growing up. This is wrong and it must end."

Mr Dennigan added: "It's particularly shocking that we are now seeing babies being born into homelessness. Being homeless causes terrible trauma to any family or individual but it is hurting children the most. We are seeing this through our own work supporting these families. Babies are living in tiny hotel rooms where they don't even have enough room to learn how to crawl properly."

Focus Ireland has called on the four TDs entering the Dáil to commit to calling on the Government to put in place a specific family homelessness strategy and to also set a cast-iron deadline which means that no family or individual would be homeless for more than six months. Mr Dennigan said Focus Ireland would be in contact with the four successful candidates to follow up on these issues.

The organisation ran a campaign in the four by-election areas asking all candidates:

• Will you commit to introducing a family homelessness strategy?

• Will you use your voice in the Dail to call for a Youth Homelessness Strategy?

• What will you do to increase the building of social housing?

Meanwhile, Focus Ireland said that even though the crisis continues there is much work being done across the housing and homelessness sector to help many families & individuals. The charity said that it has managed to help over 1,200 families to secure a home – in partnership with the State and its supporters – in the last two years and move on from being homeless.

The October figures also reveal that the total number of children homeless is 3,826 (in 1,733 families). While regional figures show that homelessness is not just a Dublin crisis as 463 families and 1,031 children now homeless outside of the capital.

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