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One of the Ireland’s largest homeless charities saw a 9 per cent jump in the number of people it helped last year.
Focus Ireland supported more than 12,500 people who had no home or were at risk of losing their home - the highest number in the 30 years the agency has been doing this work. The figure was up from 11,500 people in the previous year.
Founder Sr Stanislaus Kennedy said the charity would provide 600 more homes by the end of 2019 — 150 each year — to help tackle the crisis.
At the end of July there were 1,130 families, with 2,348 children, in emergency accommodation including hotels, hostels and B&Bs in towns and cities around the country.
The agency praised the work of Simon Coveney, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, but warned the Government’s plans to tackle homelessness and housing shortages need more detail before they can be fully credible.
Part of Mr Coveney’s commitments in the Action Plan on Housing include a pledge to put homeless families in emergency hotel accommodation only in very limited circumstances.
The Government also vowed to spend €5.35 billion on 47,000 new social houses by 2021, and the number of homes being built each year will double to 25,000.
Focus Ireland’s report is being launched days after another leading campaigner on the issue Fr Peter McVerry called for the Government to seize empty homes for social housing.
The Peter McVerry Trust said the number of homeless people it placed in emergency accommodation last year was up almost 90 per cent to 3,847.
Mike Allen, director of advocacy with Focus Ireland said on Thursday that their teams work with people to find accommodation “right up to the last minute.”
He told Newstalk: “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.”