'More than a family a day losing home' in Dublin

More than one family a day has been made homeless in Dublin last month, new figures reveal.

Focus Ireland, a leading homelessness charity, said the capital’s rising rents cannot be covered by social welfare payments.

Mike Allen, advocacy director at the organisation, revealed that 39 families lost their homes in the city during July alone.

“Many of these families lost their homes because the rent supplement system failed them,” he said.

The charity blames the coalition Government for the deepening crisis.

“The simple fact is that Government policy on rent supplement is one of the immediate causes of the sharp rise of family homelessness in Ireland,” said Mr Allen.

“The Government could stop many families from losing their homes with a stroke of a pen. It is not credible for the Government to accept homelessness is at crisis point yet not take this straightforward action to prevent it.”

Tánaiste Joan Burton’s Department of Social Protection is carrying out a review into the rent supplement system.

In its submission to the review, Focus Ireland has appealed for payments to match rising rents.

It argues the current official strategy is aimed at driving families on rent supplements into the cheapest houses on the market, which it says are already occupied by low wage workers and students.

As a result, families are forced to top up their rent supplements to stay in better housing and plunge deeper into debt, the charity warns.

Focus Ireland wants rent supplements to be based on the real average rent for each area and not on the cheapest homes.

“We cannot escape from the fact that there are not enough homes to rent in the lowest third of the market for everyone who is seeking a home to secure a roof over their heads,” said Mr Allen.

“The Government must open its eyes to this fact. They have a responsibility and a duty to do so to protect families and individuals who are being priced out of the market.”

Last month, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin described the level of homelessness in Dublin as shameful.

Church agency Crosscare had to turn away 1,000 of the country’s poorest people because it couldn’t cope with the demand on its services.

Archbishop Martin said the Department of Social Affairs needed more money and a “more enlightened” policy on housing.

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