People across the country are beginning to realise how easy it is to fall into homelessness in Ireland, according to the Focus Ireland CEO.
Pat Dennigan was speaking to Breakfast Briefing ahead of the launch of the homeless charity’s annual report this morning.
The report finds that the charity helped a record 1,829 households avoid homelessness or find a secure home last year.
It supported 880 families out of homelessness and supported nearly 3,300 children.
Comedian Rory O’Connor from Rory’s Stories has recently joined Focus Ireland as an ambassador and revealed he had his own brush with homelessness two years ago.
Mr Dennigan said there is now a realisation that it is incredibly easy to fall into homelessness in Ireland.
“Rory has been a great ambassador for us of late,” he said. “There is a realisation that that can happen to so many people.
“Later on, as part of our annual report launch some of our customers actually speak about their own experiences, what it was like and what is was like to actually get out of homelessness and move on with their lives.
“Because rents are so high and because the supply of housing is very difficult at the moment, it is difficult to find some place to live and when you fall into that trap it is very difficult to get out.”
“It is starting to come down for a number of different reasons,” he said.
“Some of that is down to the emergency legislation that was put in place during the pandemic where there were restrictions on landlords serving notices of termination in the private rented sector.
“But also, some of it is down to the work on the ground that NGOs and local authorities are doing with people who are in that difficulty.
“Throughout the pandemic we have been driving that number down and what we want to do now is build on that momentum.”
Housing for All
He welcomed the Government commitment to end homelessness by 2030 – however, he said annual checkpoints and milestones need to be set so authorities can hold themselves to account along the way.
“I think during the period of the pandemic, there was a new level of partnership entered into between the local authorities the health service and NGOs like ourselves and that really showed in the ability to keep people safe during the pandemic.
“We need to build on that and ensure we apply that level of partnership now into this homelessness crisis.”
Mr Dennigan said the emergency homeless response during the pandemic ensured that Dublin’s homeless community suffered fewer deaths from COVID than almost any other city in Europe.