Focus Ireland welcomed news that the number of people homeless in April has dropped to 9,355 and the charity believes this is due to the effective collaboration between the State, local authorities and other NGOs. This is a drop of 572 people from the number homeless in March.
The charity reported that it helped support 214 children in 109 households across the country to secure a home in April and this was achieved through this partnership approach.However, Focus Ireland warned that the sudden lifting of temporary prevention measures – such as a rent freeze and ban on evictions – could result in a new surge in homelessness as the country reopens.
This is why Focus Ireland has written to the leaders of all parties, including the three parties involved in government formation talks, to call for the urgent development of a clear Roadmap for Housing & Homelessness to as the country emerges from Covid-19. The charity has also called for a timely and co-ordinated extension of the rent freeze, the ban on evictions and the new arrangements for Rent Supplement beyond the end of June.
Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said:“During the Covid-19 emergency, our staff have continued to provide vital services to support thousands of people who are homeless right across the country. Since the lockdown began we have been trying to ensure that families are protected from the virus and from the stresses caused by the lockdown, and we have been helping them find a new home. The fact there have been no homeless deaths due to Covid-19 is an incredible achievement when compared to the tragic situation in other countries across Europe. Focus Ireland and our partners who include local authorities, Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and the HSE should be very proud and have shown the effectiveness of collaboration.”He added:“We believe Covid-19 can be a turning point in the fight against homelessness and we hope the new government will make commitments that people who are homeless who were accommodated during lockdown will not be expected to return to the streets or hostels but will be offered homes through an expanded Housing First programme. Other European countries have used this crisis as an opportunity to rethink their approach to ending homelessness but no Irish political leader has yet set out such a vision. We are at a crucial juncture which will decide how the homelessness crisis goes not only for the rest of the year but for many years to come.”
The Focus Ireland Roadmap for Housing & Homelessness letter to the party leaders, including An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin and Eamon Ryan can be read here.