‘Unforgivable’ lack of action on homelessness, Focus Ireland says

Charity says rise in homelessness not inevitable as it calls for immediate response ahead of winter

The Government is showing an “unforgivable” lack of action on homelessness, the founder of homeless charity Focus Ireland has said.

Sr Stanislaus Kennedy, who is president of the charity, said rising homelessness is not inevitable and there is a need for immediate action in advance of a difficult winter.

The campaigner was speaking at the launch of Focus Ireland’s 2021 annual report, which showed the charity helped 1,288 households avoid or leave homelessness last year.

This figure includes 767 households which Focus Ireland helped support out of homelessness and 521 households where the charity’s interventions avoided them from becoming homeless in the first place. The charity also supported more than 12,300 people who engaged with their services.


The number of homeless people in Ireland has reached a new record high of 10,805 people, according to the most recent figures from the Department of Housing.

“It is vital that this shameful new high must trigger an emergency response from the State. Rising homelessness is not inevitable,” Sr Kennedy said.

“It is the result of the wrong political decisions. If the right ones are taken, we can ease this terrible human crisis instead of allowing it to deepen again.”

The leading campaigner said the “lack of action is unforgivable”, adding that most emergency accommodation is now full.

She called for a temporary eviction ban as well as an expert group to determine the measures that will encourage landlords to stay in the market for a fixed period.

“This will give the country some breathing space while the rate of social housing delivery is ramped up. As a nation, we cannot simply accept this crisis by saying it will take time to increase housing supply. This has been the default response now for too long by successive governments,” she said.

“Over 3,200 children who are homeless do not have the luxury of time. Their childhoods are being stolen as homelessness is causing young people to lose out on the safety and security of a permanent home. This situation is unacceptable and must end.”

Pat Dennigan, chief executive of Focus Ireland, said there was a five-year low in the number of people living in emergency accommodation in May 2021.

“Since then, regrettably, we have arrived at a situation where we are seeing record homelessness for two months in a row. We know it does not have to be this way and it is a shame this crucial collaboration has been undone,” he added.

A spokesman for the Department of Housing said the increase in homelessness is “a serious concern for Government and we know there is significant pressure on our NGOs and local authorities in grappling with this issue”.

“Budget 2023 provides funding of over €215 million, an increase of 10 per cent on last year, for the delivery of homeless services. This will ensure that local authorities cannot only provide emergency accommodation but, importantly, homeless prevention measures and support households to successfully exit homelessness into secure tenancies,” he said.

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is Health Correspondent of The Irish Times