Focus Ireland has called for Government to review its policies to tackle the homelessness crisis. The reintroduction of eviction bans is also required to prevent a spike in homelessness in light of new Covid-19 restrictions.
Focus Ireland, with the support of the public, has been working tirelessly to end homelessness. The charity believes the homelessness can be ended. Conor – Communication officers of Focus Ireland said that no country has ever managed a significant reduction in homelessness without having a clear commitment to ending it. Hence, the charity called on Government to set a clear and firm deadline for the ending of homelessness in this country.
According to Conor Culkin, there was a previous Government commitment to ending long-term homelessness in 2010. This led to the lowest ever level of homelessness in Ireland. “The government did have commitment ten years ago. In the early 2010, the number of people homeless in Ireland reduced significantly. If you go back to 2012 and 2013, the number was just nearly 1000. It was extremely low.” He added: “We need commitment from voters, we need commitment from citizens and most importantly, we need commitment from policy makers who ring the Government to complete the plan to ultimately ending homelessness.”
Last year, Focus Ireland released “5 Point Plan” to tackle the housing and homelessness crisis. This plan includes demands for commitment to build at least 35,000 homes a year. Focus Ireland also called for the next Government to put in place a specific family homelessness strategy, ensuring that no family or individual is homeless for longer than six months. Conor emphasized that: “We need the Government to put in place practical long-term solutions to prevent people becoming homeless in the future.
Conor Culkin – Communication officers of Focus Ireland highlighted the work done by the organization during the COVID 19 pandemic. “When the global pandemic comes along, homeless people have added stress of potentially contracting this virus.” Conor said. In 2020, Focus Ireland helped over 1,100 households to secure a home. They also reduced the number of people homeless from the record of over 10,000 people to over 8000 people.
In line with Government guidelines in the pandemic, Focus Ireland services operated with precautionary measures in place to help protect their staffs and the people they support. “It was a situation where homeless services were stressed. Traditionally, advising support would be face to face. In 2020, it had to go online. However, our service staffs adapted it very well. They were able to speak to the most vulnerable people even through mobile phone.” Conor said.
Currently, Focus Ireland relies heavily on public donations to ensure it can carry out the full extent of their work. Last year, the organization launched “Shine A Light Night” aiming to raise €1.3 million to support people experiencing homelessness across the country. While the charity does receive State funding it still has to raise over 40% of its annual budget through fundraising.