‘Loss of confidence’ as number of homeless families rises

Housing campaigners say Government has no sense of urgency to tackle crisis

 Sr Stanislaus Kennedy said she was ‘deeply concerned’ at the Government’s continued emphasis on family hubs as a means to address the crisis for families.  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Sr Stanislaus Kennedy said she was ‘deeply concerned’ at the Government’s continued emphasis on family hubs as a means to address the crisis for families. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

As new figures show a huge increase in the number of homeless families, two of Ireland’s leading housing campaigners say they have “lost all confidence” in the Government’s commitment to addressing the crisis.

Sr Stanislaus Kennedy and Fr Peter McVerry issued a joint statement last night as latest figures show there are now almost 10,000 people homeless across Ireland, including 3,755 children.

Data from the Department of Housing show almost 500 children became homeless last month – the biggest monthly increase since current data gathering began in 2014.

Between January and February, the number of homeless people increased by 703 from 9,104 to 9,807.

Focus Ireland firmly believes that the Government must act to take the decisions it has shied away from for several years

During the week of February 20th to 26th, there were 3,755 homeless children in 1,739 families, compared with 3,267 homeless children in 1,517 families in January.

In February 2017, there were 7,421 people homeless, including 2,546 children in 1,239 families. This represents a 32 per cent increase in overall homelessness, a 40 per cent increase in family homelessness, and a 47 per cent increase in the number of homeless children.

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said the figures seemed to “indicate a very worrying trend”.

Lack of supply

Mr Murphy blamed a lack of supply as the main cause for the rise. “All of the trends, all of the indicators are pointing to a very dramatic increase in housing supply over the course of 2018 and into 2019 and as those homes are built, they are going to have an impact in reducing the number of people in homeless accommodation.”

Describing the Government’s Rebuilding Ireland plan to tackle the housing crisis as “deeply flawed”, Fr McVerry said it was presented “with a stack of press statements aimed primarily at presenting a positive picture”.

Sr Stan said she was “deeply concerned” at the Government’s continued emphasis on family hubs as a means to address the crisis for families. She said there was “no sense of urgency” in the Government’s approach.

Others described the figures as “shocking”, “unacceptable” and indicative of a crisis “spiralling out of control”.

Focus Ireland, the lead agency working with homeless families in Dublin, said the Government was failing to tackle the deepening crisis.

“Focus Ireland firmly believes that the Government must act to take the decisions it has shied away from for several years,” chief executive Pat Dennigan said. “This includes actively building social housing, taxing those who hoard building land and protecting the rights of tenants facing eviction.”