Sense of panic about homelessness gone, says Focus Ireland director

Mike Allen says fact homeless figures are not soaring is good news

There were 10,173 adults and children in emergency accommodation in June

There were 10,173 adults and children in emergency accommodation in June

 

The sense of panic about homelessness in Ireland is gone, according to the director of advocacy with Focus Ireland.

Mike Allen has said the fact homeless figures are not soaring is good news and that the previous sense that “we were about to be overwhelmed” is no longer there.

Mr Allen was commenting on the latest homeless figures, which have decreased for the second month in a row, on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

There were 10,173 adults and children in emergency accommodation in June, according to the Department of Housing, a drop of 81 in and 205 since April.

The April figure of 10,378 was the highest ever recorded and followed the numbers exceeding 10,000 for the first time in the previous month.

The latest statistics show there were seven fewer adults and 74 fewer children homeless in June compared to May.

‘Good news’

“The fact that the headline figure is no longer soaring away in the really horrific manner it was and has been for so many years is good news. It takes some pressure off,” said Mr Allen.

“One year ago in Focus Ireland in the coffee shop we would have been making hundreds of phone calls every night and we would have had 40 or 50 families who had to find accommodation somewhere to stay that night and were at risk of having nowhere to stay and us having to send them to the garda stations. That’s not the situation any more.

“So that panic, that sense of being about to be overwhelmed for the moment, is gone. It would be far too premature to say that’s not going to come back.

“The number of homes that we need to be building is 35,000 new homes a year, [according to IBEC], at best we’re building 20,000, the underlying problem is getting worse.

“There’s a tendency in this discussion for one side to say everything’s bad and then for the Minister to say ‘no, everything’s working’, in reality it’s much more complex than that.”

Mr Allen called for an agreed method of counting homeless figures. “Two of things we’re pointing out about the figures at the moment — in Dublin there are 1,300 families, according to official figures. But in addition to that are 200 families not counted, so they’re in what’s called ‘own door’ accommodation — emergency accommodation, but they’ve their own key to the door, but they’re still homeless. The Minister decided not to count them which undermines his own figures.

“It would be so much better if we could have an agreed way of counting the figures so we could really understand the problem.”