herald

Friday 20 September 2019

All-time high 15,500 helped by Focus Ireland in 'a bleak' 2018

'Mr Dennigan said the housing and homelessness crisis is not an
'Mr Dennigan said the housing and homelessness crisis is not an "unavoidable cost" of economic recovery in Ireland in recent years.' (stock image)

Homelessness charity Focus Ireland offered support to more than 15,500 people who were homeless or at risk of losing their homes last year.

The organisation's annual report revealed it offered support to 1,600 families in 2018.

This was an all-time high for the charity and represented an increase of 7pc from 2017 and 14pc since 2016.

Speaking at the launch of the report, incoming chief executive Pat Dennigan said 2018 was a "bleak year".

"More men, women and children experienced homelessness than ever before," he said.

"More emergency shelters and family hubs were opened across the country, and by 2018, we saw more homes filled than in recent years.

"It was still far short of what people needed."

Damage

Mr Dennigan said the housing and homelessness crisis is not an "unavoidable cost" of economic recovery in Ireland in recent years.

"That takes no account of the damage that this crisis continues to inflict on people and families all over the country," he added.

Focus Ireland provided 176 homes under its housing wing, Focus Housing, to those coming out of homelessness last year.

The figures lay bare the country's deepening homelessness crisis, which is having a devastating effect on large numbers of children in particular.

Figures released yesterday by children's charity, The Children's Right Alliance, showed a new record of almost 4,000 children on the streets.

According to the alliance, a record number of 3,778 children are now homeless.

The charity has called on child poverty to be tackled in the upcoming Budget.

"The Budget is the last chance for this Government to do something to free families trapped in poverty," said the charity's chief executive Tanya Ward.

Children's charity Barnandos echoed her remarks.

"The long-term vision needs to be one focused on making education truly free for the children in this country," Barnardos chief executive Suzanne Connolly said.

"The Government can use Budget 2020 to make a start by making school books free for every child in primary school.

"This can be done with €20m, just 0.2pc of the Department's budget," Ms Connolly added.

Children's Rights Alliance calls for action in Budget - see page 16

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