Thousands homeless as houses lie empty
IRELAND is facing a homeless crisis much worse than that experienced in the dark days of the 1980s, a leading voluntary housing organisation has warned.
Focus Ireland, which launched its annual report yesterday, said it supported 6,500 people last year -- an 18pc increase on 2009.
But the organisation warned the Government that further cuts and a failure to deliver housing would inevitably result in more homelessness.
The previous government's target of providing 1,200 housing units in 2010 for people who have been homeless long-term was not reached.
Focus Ireland said the aim of ending long-term homelessness this year had also failed and a new target date was required.
CEO Joyce Loughnan said there were now more than 100,000 on the housing waiting list, and up to 5,000 people were homeless.
"There are up to 100,000 people on the housing list at a time when we have more empty new homes than ever before in the history of the State. We are not providing homes to those who are most at need," she said.
She added that action needed to be taken now to house those languishing on waiting lists while more than a quarter of a million houses lie empty around the country.
"There are still 5,000 people homeless, more than 100,000 on housing waiting lists, and many thousands struggling to keep a roof over their heads. Short-term cuts will inevitably lead to an excessive, expensive crisis," she said.
Focus Ireland founder, Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, said the homeless situation was worse now than 25 years ago when the organisation was founded.
"Over the past 25 years we have seen the terrible suffering caused by homelessness and the lasting damage done to people who were not able to get out of homelessness," she said.
"The situation now is worse than it was 25 years ago. We had a bizarre situation in this country during the boom where millionaires paid little or no tax while the numbers of homeless continued to rise.
"What we are seeing now is gross inequalities, terrible poverty and suffering and stress for more and more people."
According to its report, the charity provided homes for 620 households last year in Dublin, Limerick, Kilkenny, Clare, Waterford, Cork and Sligo.
It said it hoped to help 2,500 people to get a home by 2013.
The charity also provided 50,000 meals at its centre in Temple Bar in Dublin last year.
Despite the recession, it received €5.1m from donations, corporate support and fundraising events in 2010.