In this podcast Focus Ireland tells us that nearly 3000 Irish families have nowhere to live – a growing reality give the economic recession. Their director of advocacy, Mike Allen discusses what can be done to help.

[display_podcast] This podcast made available from Vatican Radio


Focus Ireland

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Focus Ireland was founded by Sr Stanislaus Kennedy as a result of the findings of research into the needs of homeless women in Dublin.

Through listening to the experiences of the women, the research team realised the importance of involving people who were experiencing or had experienced homelessness, in the development of services for people out-of-home.

In 1985, two years after the initial research Focus Point (now Focus Ireland) opened its doors in Eustace St, Dublin. The agency provided streetwork services to young people, advice, advocacy, information, help with finding a home and a warm and welcoming place to meet and have a low-cost meal.

Since 1985, Focus Ireland has continued to grow and expand its services. In 1988, the organisation opened its first development of low rent, good quality long-term and short-term housing in Dublin. Focus Ireland now has additional housing and service projects in Dublin as well as housing developments in both Limerick and Waterford.

Focus Ireland claims that draft NAMA legislation is a missed opportunity to tackle growing housing needs in Ireland
30th July 2009

In their press release dated 30 July 2009, Focus Ireland said that the failure of the draft legislation in relation to the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) to contain any mention of the social value of the houses and building land which the agency will control is a missed opportunity to tackle real housing need in Ireland. Focus Irelands Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said:

Focus Ireland had proposed that NAMA should be given the power to undertake a Land and Housing Management Strategy to ensure that residential property or land that becomes the legal property of NAMA could be put to social use to meet the growing housing need in Ireland.

Focus Ireland would now urge the Government – and all interested parties – to ensure the key question of NAMA delivering a real social dividend forms a key part of the debate on this issue over the Summer months.

The housing and homeless charity highlighted that the 2008 housing needs assessment identified nearly 60,000 households in need of social housing and added that this need is likely to have increased given the impact of the economic downturn.

Focus Ireland had also said that the introduction of NAMA provides an opportunity to make empty homes available to people who need them and to actively assemble land for future housing purposes which will allow for planned development.

The draft legislation makes not a single mention of the word social and gives no role to Local Authorities, which are meant to be the lead agency in planning homes and communities. The charity said it is vital for the Government to ensure that ordinary people benefit from what emerges from the National Asset Management Agency as they will be paying for this rescue through their taxes for many years to come.