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Charity helps record number of households to avoid homelessness

Focus Ireland has launched its annual report.

Image: PA

FOCUS IRELAND HELPED a record number of 1,829 households to avoid homelessness or find a secure home, its annual report has found.

The charity, at its 2020 annual report launch, said that more than 1,359 households were supported to settle into a new home and a further 470 households were supported in keeping their homes.

Focus Ireland said it also ensured 880 families were supported out of homelessness and nearly 3,300 children were supported across its services.

The charity’s founder and life president, Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, called on the Government to set out annual targets for reducing homelessness.

The charity said the targets would show the impact of the Government’s plan to eliminate homelessness by the end of the decade.

Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said that despite the challenges of the pandemic, the charity was able to support a record number of households to avert a risk of homelessness or move to a new secure home.

“One of the remarkable features of the response to the pandemic was the renewed sense of collaboration and teamwork between NGOs (non-government organisations), local authorities and health services,” Dennigan said.

“Solutions were found for previously intractable problems; red tape was cut and access to housing and safer emergency accommodation was fast-tracked.

“Together we ensured that fewer people who were homeless in Dublin suffered fewer deaths from Covid-19 than in almost any other major city.

“This renewed sense of partnership and trust are aspects that we need to retain, learn from and build on as we work together in the future with the shared goal of making homelessness a thing of the past.”

Dennigan warned, however, that Government’s commitment to ending homelessness by 2030 within the Housing for All plan will pose a significant challenge. 

He said that to end homelessness by 2030 “we need to break this huge problem down into solvable parts. 

“We need Government to set out annual milestones along the way to keep us on track.

“Even if every one of the eighteen action points on homelessness are fully achieved, they would not achieve the goal of ending homelessness,” he said.

The key findings of the charity’s annual report included:

 More than 1,359 households were supported to settle into a new home or supported on a pathway towards sustaining an exit.

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 More than 470 households were supported to keep their homes.

 12,300 people engaged with Focus Ireland services.

 430 young people were supported by Focus Ireland youth and aftercare services.

 275 adults were supported through Focus Ireland’s Preparation for Education Training and Employment programme.

 More than 6,800 people were provided with advice and information.

With reporting by Cónal Thomas

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