As the election countdown continues the stark reality is that a record number of over 5,000 people are homeless.
Shockingly one in every three people who are homeless is a child.
Meanwhile, one in every 16 households is in need of a home as they are one of the over 100,000 households stuck on social housing waiting lists nationwide.
Sadly the problem hits home in every county but the most people who are homeless and in need of housing are in our capital city.
Focus Ireland is working hard to help families and people who are homeless and to prevent many others from becoming homeless in the first place.
Our Family Team in Dublin helps one family a day to secure a home (in partnership with the Dublin Regional Housing Executive & Local Authorities) and escape the nightmare of homelessness.
However, at the same time at least two more families are still losing their homes and becoming homeless every day. More single people are also being forced into homelessness due to rising rents and poverty.
How can we stand by while families and their children who are homeless are forced to live in one hotel room for months at a time?
There is nowhere safe for the children to play, do their homework or for the family to even cook a meal.
This is causing terrible damage for these families and also the many single people who are homeless stuck in hostels or some even sleeping on the streets.
Focus Ireland is always working hard to put forward realistic policy solutions to help prevent and end homelessness. We do this work through our 70 lifeline services in Dublin and around the country.
We also have a proud track record of changing many government policies across key areas. This work may be mostly behind the scenes but it has played a vital role over the years in bringing forward many important policies in the area of supported housing and also in the provision of aftercare for young people leaving State Care at the age of 18.
Our work in recent months we hope will play a part in developing the policy responses of the next Government on these important issues.
We have lobbied all key parties and independents and submitted a very comprehensive policy document which not only outlines our demands but even breaks this down to the specific actions required by each Minister in the next Government to end homelessness.
We are now calling on voters to add their support to our work. We have drafted an Election Demands document which highlights five key commitments we are asking every candidate to make to help the next Government end the crisis.
Our campaign is calling on voters to email 5 key demands to all their local candidates and demand to know each politicians position on the issues.
These demands include calling for the next Government to deliver 40,000 social homes over its five-year term and to set a firm target date for ending long-term homelessness and rough sleeping. We are also calling for all candidates to make a commitment to end family homelessness and take action to support holding a referendum on the ‘right to a home’.
I would ask people to please add your own voice to the campaign at www.focusireland.ie/get-involved/take-action
Focus Ireland wants to say loud and clear to every candidate standing in this General Election that the housing crisis impacts on people across the country and in all walks of life. This is a terrible crisis but it’s vital to stress that there are solutions to these problems but they will only be delivered if the next elected Government knows that this is a national priority. Focus Ireland is calling on all voters to make sure they use the election campaign to mark the cards of all their local candidates on this issue.
I am asking you to please take action now and after the election to let the next Government know that you want to live in a more equal Ireland.
As we approach the centenary of 1916 Rising and Proclamation it would be a proud legacy for our nation to be able to stand over the promise that we really do cherish all children equally.
Founder, Focus Ireland