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45 families losT homes last month

Forty five families were forced into homelessness last month in Dublin alone.

And some families are being squeezed into tiny hotel rooms, with up to six people in a room and no cooking facilities as a result of the current homelessness crisis, according to Focus Ireland.

Over 800 children and their families became homeless in the first ten months of this year, its stark figures show.

Focus Ireland are making an urgent appeal for public donations to help fund its work with just four weeks to Christmas.

Demand for the charity's services grew by 25pc last year, and continues to increase again this year.

It comes as the latest figures also show a 20pc rise in the number of people sleeping rough in the city this winter - there were 168 people on the streets earlier this month.

The new Focus Ireland campaign features radio and outdoor ads and is being fronted by its founder Sr Stanislaus Kennedy.

"It would really break your heart to see where many children and their families who are homeless are being forced to stay.

"Some families who are homeless are squeezed into tiny hotel rooms, five or six people in one room, nowhere to cook or for the children to play. And it's not just families. There are many single people and couples who are homeless as well and they all need a place to call home," she said.

"Focus Ireland is working hard to help support these families who are homeless, but we must raise nearly one third of our annual budget to keep our services and housing going through fundraising," she said.

The charity supported over 10,000 people last year who were homeless, or at risk of losing their home, through its work.

The Government did not raise rent supplement levels in the October Budget, despite intensive lobbying by Focus Ireland which had been highlighting that the main reason why families and single people are losing their homes is from rent supplement payments not keeping up with rising rents.

The DAFT.ie property report in November showed that rents are up an average of €300 a month since 2012.

Focus Ireland has argued that the Government could stop more families losing their homes with the "stroke of a pen" by raising rent supplement to match market rents.

It has also said that the Government also needs to regulate rents to provide better protection for tenants to secure people in their homes, which is done in countries like Denmark.

New figures show 168 people were sleeping rough in Dublin on the night of Tuesday, November 11 compared to 139 in the winter count in 2013.

The figures come as arrangements are being put in place to provide a further 152 emergency beds for homeless people by the end of the year.

Focus Ireland said the 20pc rise must act as an urgent warning that immediate action is needed to address the critical lack of affordable accommodation.

It said that rough sleeping remains a serious problem due to the continued lack of access to housing.

EMERGENCY

The charity also called for improved access to a range of suitable emergency accommodation and move on housing all year round in order to end long term homelessness and the need to sleep rough.

"The continuing rise of people sleeping rough is very worrying and unacceptable," said Focus Ireland's Director of Advocacy Mike Allen.

"This shocking increase of the numbers sleeping rough show that homeless is not just about the terrible crisis of families being forced to live in hotel rooms. It is also about single people losing their accommodation and some having to sleep rough on the streets," he added.

The new campaign aims to keep homelessness firmly on the public and political agenda. People can log on to www.focusireland.ie to make a donation.

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