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Focus Ireland recorded 30% increase in service users last year as homelessness rose

THE NUMBER OF people who used Focus Ireland’s services last year increased by 30% compared to 2021.

The jump came as the number of homeless people in Ireland persistently rose and households struggled with cost of living increases.

Around 16,000 people used the charity’s services in 2022, rising from 12,300 the previous year.

The number of families – 1,668 – increased by 9%, while the number of children rose by a staggering 27% to 4,235.

Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said the increase was “due to many factors which include new services and housing developed during the year” but that it is “very clear that the main reason for the rise is that more people than ever before are now homeless or at serious risk of losing their home”.

“Sadly, the crisis has continued to deepen again this year as now a record total of 12,847 people are homeless,” he said.

Despite the increasing numbers we must always remember that homelessness is not inevitable. There are some initiatives that could be taken now to help ease this crisis with the stroke of a pen.

He said that one such policy action Focus Ireland is calling for is for the government “to establish a process for allocation of social housing which gives fairer access to households trapped in homelessness for extended periods”.

“The record delivery of social housing is having no impact on the number of families. The government must address this urgently,” Dennigan said.

“A fairer distribution of new housing would lift many children, families, and individuals out of homelessness more quickly – which would have the knock-on positive impact of easing the burden on over-stretched homelessness services.”

Focus Ireland’s annual report for 2022 detailed that it supported 1,598 households to settle into a new home in an exit from homelessness or to keep their homes, an increase from 1,288 in 2021.

Around 400 young people received support from its youth and aftercare services.