Focus Ireland 'working up to midnight' to house homeless families

The charity says it plans to provide 600 more homes by 2019

Focus Ireland 'working up to midnight' to house homeless families

Image: Focus Ireland

Homeless charity Focus Ireland says it is working 'up to midnight' to find accomdation for families.

The group says it supported over 12,500 people last year.

In its annual report, it says this is a 9% increase on 2014 - where the number stood at 11,500.

It also announced a decision which will see it provide 600 more homes by 2019 to help tackle the growing homeless crisis.

it says it aims to deliver 150 homes a year over the next four years, to double its current housing stock.

Chairperson of Focus Ireland, Gerry Danaher, said: "We all know that affordable housing supply is at the heart of the homeless crisis that blights the lives of so many.

"Focus Ireland has repeatedly called on the minister and his predecessors to take the necessary action to tackle this crisis. But we also know we have our own important role to play in this and our plan to double our housing stock over the next four years which is proof of our commitment."

Meanwhile, the charity acknowledged the "commitment and energy" of Housing Minister Simon Coveney, and repeated its broad welcome for the Government's Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness.

But it also warned in relation to family homelessness, there were a number of areas where more detailed proposals were needed before the plan is fully credible.

Construction of a 28-unit development in Harold's Cross | Image: Focus Ireland

Mr Danaher said: "At present, the only firm commitment in the action plan to these families is to eliminate the use of hotel rooms and provide better emergency accommodation though 'rapid build' housing, and to provide better supports to them while they remain homeless.

"This is welcome but even the best emergency accommodation is not a home.

"There is little in the action plan which will cut the numbers of families losing their homes or help others secure a home."

It says 90 families have become homeless every month so far this year, compared with 60 a month last year.

Mike Allen is director of advocacy with the charity.

He told Newstalk Breakfast their teams are working to find people homes right up until the last minute.

"This is at breaking point - if you are trying to find accommodation for homeless families at midnight, virtually every night, one night that's going to go wrong, or several nights that's going to go wrong.

"You might be talking about mother and father...or you might be talking about a single mother with young children.

"So some of these might be sort of 18, 19-year-old women with young children - very young children."