Government criticised on homelessness


Two leading Irish homeless charities have criticised the Government for not setting a firm deadline for ending long term homelessness.

At a seminar to mark World Homeless Day, held at the Mansion House in Dublin today, Focus Ireland and Threshold called on the Government to set a new deadline of 2013.

The charities said that the previous target of 2010 was not met, mainly because of the failure to provide the housing vital to move people out of homelessness.

They maintained that increasing access to housing and taking steps to offer greater security of tenure for the most vulnerable households are the key issues to be addressed, to combat and prevent homelessness nationwide.

"If we are serious about tackling homelessness we need to ensure that people who are homeless get priority in accessing the housing that is available" said Mike Allen, director of advocacy at Focus Ireland.

"This will only happen if the Minister signals that this is a top priority for him, with a clear deadline for delivery."

The joint seminar was held to explore the implications on homeless policy of the Government's new housing policy statement, published by Minister of State for Housing Willie Penrose in June.

Statements released by both Focus Ireland and Threshold welcomed the clarity of the recent housing policy statement saying it signals, for the first time, a move away from home ownership as being the "top tier of housing policy", in favour of more diversified options.

Speaking at the event, Mr Penrose failed to commit the government to any deadline for the eradication of long term homelessness and the need to sleep rough, as called upon by the two charities.

"As a government, we share the belief that prevention is better than cure. We are determined to re-orientate our policies to ensure that homelessness is tackled in a more planned and strategic way," he said.

"There is no single solution to increasing the level of social housing supply and flexible and diverse approaches will be required. Maximising delivery from all available sources will be essential to prevent homelessness and end long-term occupation of emergency facilities."