Irish demand on homeless services up by a quarter

Focus Ireland's Mark Byrne (far right) called out for higher investment in social housing
Focus Ireland’s Mark Byrne (far right) called out for higher investment in social housing

A Dublin charity that helps the homeless or those at risk has reported a 25 per cent increase in people using its services.

Focus Ireland said it supported more than 10,000 people in 2013 compared to 8,000 in 2012, and has worked with over 8,000 people so far this calendar year.

The charity said it has already worked with more than 8,000 this year, and that one person a day is becoming homeless.

Focus Ireland’s acting chief executive Mark Byrne described the situation as a growing crisis and said the government must invest in social housing.

“There was a sharp 25% increase in the number of people we supported last year as more people than ever were at risk of losing their home and the housing and homeless crisis deepened,” said Mark Byrne, the charity’s acting chief executive.

He called on the Irish government to invest in social housing due to the “rising demand” for Focus Ireland’s services.

“We have families coming to us every day who have lost their home and in many cases the best we can do is get them into a B&B or hotel so they are off the streets,” he added.

“This is not acceptable.

“The government has said we have reached the limits of austerity and I believe the growing homeless crisis proves this. There must be urgent investment in building social housing now.

“Focus Ireland has called for an investment of £395.17 million (500m euro) in the budget to provide at least 3,000 homes and also much needed jobs to help boost the economy.”

crosscare 1499It comes as Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin told how the church had to turn away 1,000 of the country’s poorest people last year as they could not cope with the demand.

At the launch of the church’s Crosscare agency’s report it was revealed that in 12 months up to February, they worked with 5,000 people but were forced to neglect another thousand due to insufficient resources.

“Homelessness is a sort of thermometer of the overall social climate,” he said.

“If that is the case, the current crisis of homelessness in Ireland is in fact an indication of a more widespread failure of social policy.”

He added that Crosscare would be more than willing to publicise how the country’s public services have failed those who most need them.

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