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Ireland's crisis: I have never seen it so bad. These families are living under terrible stress

At least two families lost their home today – and the homeless crisis is deepening, writes Sr Stanislaus Kennedy.

Sr Stanislaus Kennedy

AS YOU READ this you may be on the way home.

We can take home for granted, but we all know what ‘home’ means. It is the foundation stone of our personal and family life. But not everyone has this security.

The harsh fact is at least two families lost their home today. Sadly, more than 1,500 children in 800 families have no place to call home.

I have never seen it so bad. These families are living under terrible stress and it’s the children who suffer the most when homeless.

The fallout of the recession meant that some fathers and mothers lost their jobs  – others lost their business. They struggled to keep a roof over their heads. Then one day they lost their fight and couldn’t hold on any longer.

Rents have shot up by 30 to 40% over the last few years. Many tenants haven’t been able to manage as rent supplement is too low. Families lose their home as they simply can’t afford to pay the rent.

They have been called The New Homeless: the people who become homeless for purely economic reasons.

Many families who are homeless are squeezed into hotel rooms – 5 or 6 people in one room, nowhere to cook or for children to play. The homeless crisis has deepened to an emergency situation as the number of children and families homeless has doubled in a year.

The government has taken some actions that have helped to prevent some families becoming homeless and this is welcome. Let us be clear: more must be done to stop the constant rise in the number of families and individuals losing their homes every day.

The government must raise rent supplement to match market rents and keep people in their existing homes.

There are also many people struggling to pay their mortgages. Government must take a firm hand with the banks and financial institutions to ensure there is not an avalanche of repossessions of family homes.

Sr Stanislaus Kennedy is the founder and life president of Focus Ireland 

Focus Ireland is working hard to help these people who are at risk of homelessness. We depend on the generous support of the public and businesses to help keep our 70 lifeline support and prevention services there for people when they need support.

I am asking people to please give what they can afford to support our urgent Christmas appeal.  People can donate at www.focusireland.ie or 1850 204 205.

This year is Focus Ireland’s 30th anniversary. Our work has touched many thousands of lives since 1985 and continues to do so today. You can help to play a part in helping more people to make the journey home by supporting our work.

Read: One year on from Jonathan Corrie’s death, we’re still relying on short-term solutions > 

Read: Plans for modular housing slammed as building actual houses would be cheaper > 

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Sr Stanislaus Kennedy

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