John O'Haire from Johnstownbridge
A record total of 10,514 people are now homeless across Ireland and nearly 4,000 of these are children.
Focus Ireland Services Strategy Manager and Kildare native John O’Haire writes about the deepening housing and homelessness crisis facing the country.
What does home mean to you? Many would say their home means comfort, safety, security.
Sadly, not everyone has this.
The harsh reality is that three families lost their home in Ireland today.
A number of individuals will have also become homeless on the same day. It’s shocking that a record total of 10,514 people are now homeless and that nearly 4,000 are children.
There are now 184 adults homeless in Kildare, with 86 families homeless, including 191 children, in the Mid-East region, which includes Kildare, Meath and Wicklow. It is wrong that any family or individual has to suffer the trauma caused by losing their home.
One young mother Louise, who tells her story in our Christmas Appeal campaign tells how her family lost their home while she was pregnant. She was then homeless when her baby boy was born.
She said: “My little Luke was born at 5.02am. But the first call I made wasn’t to family. It was to Focus Ireland.”
I did not ever think that things could get this bad but they sadly have done.
I am glad to say we were able to help Louise and her family to find a home, but it is truly shocking that we are now seeing babies being born into homelessness. Hotel rooms are no place for newborn babies. The solution to this crisis is, in some ways, very simple- we need more housing and we need it now.
I know that thousands of people in Kildare are struggling to pay ever-rising rents and are finding it hard to save for a mortgage.
The building of more social and affordable housing in Kildare is vital if we are to help free up supply of private rented accommodation and reduce these skyrocketing costs.
Focus Ireland is not sitting on the sidelines of this crisis; we make a difference. In partnership with the State, and our generous supporters, we helped over 1,200 families to escape from homelessness and to secure a home in the last two years, much of this through the work of our Family Homeless Action Team.
We helped over 15,500 people in 2018 who were homeless or at risk and we’re on track to help even more this year. We also provide over 80 vital services nationwide and over 1,100 homes, including 26 homes in Kildare.
I am particularly proud as a Johnstownbridge-native that we been able to provide support services across Kildare, including essential mental health support services for people who are homeless or at risk.
We are also working hard to continue to develop realistic policy solutions to help end homelessness.
The current situation would be even worse without the vital services and housing we provide.
This means we really need public support now more than ever so we can be there when people need help the most. 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 call 1850 204 205.
Our work will continue because this crisis must be ended.
We must continue to provide a voice for the many people and families who are voiceless.