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Charity demands action after 85 families became homeless last month

Another 85 families became homeless last month, a leading charity has revealed.

Focus Ireland said its records show the housing crisis left 293 families, with about 600 children, with no home in the first three months of the year.

And according to the Government’s own figures 912 families and 1,881 children were living in emergency homeless accommodation at the end of February.

Mike Allen, the charity’s head of advocacy, said it was highly worrying that despite all the talk about homelessness the caretaker government has taken no new actions to tackle it since the election.

“These new figures clearly show that the family homeless crisis is continuing to deepen with nearly 300 newly homeless families referred to Focus Ireland’s Family Services in the first three months of this year compared to a total of 739 becoming homeless in Dublin during the whole of last year.

“Many more single people have also become homeless during this time.”

Focus Ireland warned the homeless numbers would be even higher if it was not for the work it does supporting families into secure housing with the support of the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive.

It helps at least one family a day while another three are left with no home.

“It was great to see these families we have been working to support finally find a place to call home. It means so much to them and is so positive for all – especially the children,” Mr Allen said.

Focus Ireland called for the housing and homeless crisis to be at the heart of any new programme for government, including a commitment to end homelessness and building 40,000 social homes over the next five years.

Mr Allen added: “We must remember that while the horse-trading to form the new government is taking place more than three families have become homeless every single day so far this year.”

He said actions could be taken while government talks go on including greater security for tenants in buy-to-let properties as 27,492 of these properties are more than 90 days in mortgage arrears.

Focus Ireland also called for a rise in the rent supplement to meet market levels and confirmation of what action is required to ensure Nama delivers more social housing.

According to data from the Department of the Environment there were 912 families with 1,881 children left homeless in the last week of February. Some 600 were single parent families.

The Government’s homelessness report recorded 2,692 homeless adults in Dublin at the end of February, 260 in the South-West which includes Cork and Kerry and 260 in the South-East in Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford.

Another 220 were recorded in the Mid-West, which includes Clare and Limerick, and 187 in the Mid-East region of Meath, Kildare and Wicklow.

More than half were aged 25-44.

The Peter McVerry Trust said government departments must be brought together urgently to plan how to deal with the 5,811 people accessing emergency homeless shelters in February, up from 3,908 a year earlier.

Chief executive Pat Doyle said: “It makes little sense for the Department of the Environment to hold standalone forums when finance, social protection, health, justice, children and youth affairs, and public expenditure all have a role to play.”

Mr Doyle said each department should be challenged to come up with a set of actions they can take in order to help tackle the crisis.

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“The danger we now face is that politicians in their rush to be seen to act, simply respond by introducing measures to make building houses more profitable,” he said.

“Instead, we need to see action on land management, planning and building standards, reform of the rental market, action on mortgage arrears and support for approved housing bodies.”

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