Focus Ireland calls for fairer social housing allocation policy

Focus Ireland Calls For Fairer Social Housing Allocation Policy
The charity's annual report showed 4,235 children were supported by Focus Ireland's services last year, up from 3,338 in 2021. Photo: PA Images
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Muireann Duffy

The number of families and children who were supported by Focus Ireland last year increased by 9 per cent and 27 per cent respectively as the charity called for a fairer allocation policy for social housing in order to lift people out of homelessness more quickly.

Publishing its annual report for 2022, Focus Ireland said it noted a 30 per cent increase in the number of people it helped last year, reaching approximately 16,000 compared to 12,300 in 2021.


A breakdown of the figures showed 4,235 children were supported by the charity last year, up from 3,338 in 2021, and 1,668 families, increasing from 1,527 the year prior.

The number of people availing of Focus Ireland's Advice & Information service was up 8.5 per cent, totalling over 8,165, while 613 households were aided to keep their homes, up from 521 the previous year.

The charity welcomed the 24 per cent increase in the number of households it supported to prevent homelessness, or aided in leaving homelessness, and added that the Focus Housing Association delivered 130 homes in 2022.

Focus Ireland chief executive Pat Dennigan noted the number of people who were homeless in the State increased by 27 per cent in 2022, with the charity's staff working "harder than ever" to provide support.


'Stroke of a pen'

While he said the increased number of people helped by Focus Ireland last year is due to many factors, including new services and housing developed during the year, "it is also very clear that the main reason for the rise is that more people than ever before are now homeless or at serious risk of losing their home".

"Sadly, the crisis has continued to deepen again this year as now a record total of 12,847 people are homeless. Despite the increasing numbers we must always remember that homelessness is not inevitable. There are some initiatives that could be taken now to help ease this crisis with the stroke of a pen," Mr Dennigan said.

Calling for a new process for the allocation of social housing "which gives fairer access to households trapped in homelessness for extended periods", Mr Dennigan said the record delivery of social housing "is having no impact on the number of families" impacted by homelessness.

"The Government must address this urgently. A fairer distribution of new housing would lift many children, families, and individuals out of homelessness more quickly - which would have the knock-on positive impact of easing the burden on over-stretched homelessness services," he added.


Addressing the report's figures relating to children, Focus Ireland's life president and founder Sr Stanislaus Kennedy noted that while homelessness "causes terrible trauma for anyone", it "hurts children the most".

"It is beyond shocking that over 3,800 children are homeless. As a society we must move beyond saying that it is 'disappointing' to see the latest record homelessness figures each month.

"We must state very strongly and consistently that these numbers are unacceptable. We need to see far more urgency by the Government to tackle this issue and ease human suffering," Sr Kennedy said.

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