Sunday 15 September 2019

Surge in homeless helped by charity in 'bleak year' for crisis

Pat Dennigan: The Focus Ireland CEO said it supported 1,600 families
Pat Dennigan: The Focus Ireland CEO said it supported 1,600 families

Gabija Gataveckaite

A housing charity helped more than 15,500 people who were homeless or at risk of losing their homes last year - a significant rise of 7pc on 2017.

This was an all-time high for Focus Ireland and represented an increase of 14pc since 2016.

The charity's annual report also revealed it supported 1,600 families in 2018.

Speaking at the launch of the report, incoming CEO Pat Dennigan said 2018 had been 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."

Mr Dennigan said the housing and homelessness crisis was not an "unavoidable cost" of economic recovery 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 said.

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

The deepening homelessness crisis was further highlighted as a children's charity yesterday released figures showing a new record of almost 4,000 children on the streets.

According to the Children's Rights Alliance, a record 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 CEO Tanya Ward.

"Spending your childhood in poverty means you miss out on the things most of us take for granted: a stable home, warm clothes, school trips, having friends over.

"Without a long-term vision to free Ireland's children from the grip of poverty, we will fail an entire generation."

Books

Children's charity Barnardos echoed these remarks and wants the Government to pour more money into education.

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

"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."

Irish Independent

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