Budget to tackle youth homelessness cut by 66% since 2008
on 11/09/2013 00:00:00
According to the organisation, which provides homeless services across the most in need areas of the country, during 2012 a total of 33 children lost their family home every month - the equivalent of more than one a day.
The rate is almost double the level in 2011, when an average of 16 children became homeless every 30 days.
However, despite the figure, local authority funding given to Focus Ireland to tackle the specific issue has been cut by two thirds since 2008, a problem the group's director of advocacy Mike Allen said is likely to be further compounded by more cuts next year.
Focus Ireland's pre-budget submission launch, which was attended by Independent TDs Richard Boyd Barrett and Patrick Nulty, said that 8,000 people sought help from Focus Ireland last year.
The figure, which equates to one person almost every hour, is up significantly from the 5,500 people seen when the recession began in 2008.
Sixteen families a month sought help, up from eight per month in 2011.
Many of these people, the organisation said, are needlessly facing homelessness because of a lack of social housing and the fact they are being priced out of private rental accommodation.
As a result of the situation, Focus Ireland is calling on the Department of Environment to ring-fence €400m in funds next year to help build 3,000 new homes for those in need.
Mr Allen said the issue must not be avoided, as one in five mortgage-holders and thousands of people in the rental market are in arrears, adding that now is the time to show the public why they have made sacrifices to save the economy in recent years.
"Every budget until now has essentially been a number- cruncher," said Mr Allen. "This budget [for 2014] needs to show the benefits of that.
"If the coming budget fails to protect the most vulnerable in our society I think this will add insult to injury in the eyes of many people.
"The Government has shelled out €220m in service charges to the EU and IMF for drawing down loans under the bailout, in addition to the €1.4bn handed over in interest payments alone last year."
* The full Focus Ireland pre-budget submission can be found at www.focusireland.ie
The group can also be contacted on the helpline 1850-204-205.