Homeless charity helps a fifth more
The number of people supported by a leading homeless charity surged by almost a fifth last year.
Focus Ireland said demand jumped as the impact of the recession deepened, with help provided to 6,500 people who were homeless or at risk of losing their home.
The body warned further cuts and a failure to deliver housing will cause more people to become homeless, as 3,700 people were supported in the first five months of this year.
Joyce Loughnan, Focus Ireland chief executive, said successive governments had failed to tackle the crisis.
"The recent Census revealed more empty dwellings than ever yet we have failed to provide homes for those most in need," she said.
"There are still 5,000 people who are homeless, over 100,000 on housing waiting lists and many thousands struggling to keep a roof over their heads."
At the launch of its 2010 annual report, Focus Ireland called for a new deadline to end long-term homelessness after the previous Government failed to meet its aim of eradicating the problem by the end of last year.
It said in 2010 the charity helped 6,500 people - up 18% or 1,000 on the 2009 figure - and provided homes for 620 households in Dublin, Limerick, Kilkenny, Clare, Waterford, Cork and Sligo.
The report was launched by writer and director Gerard Stembridge, co-creator of comedy radio show Scrap Saturday, who called for the Government not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, Focus Ireland's life president and founder, said: "If the Government cuts funding to services and fails to deliver housing this will lead to more people becoming homeless which costs more in human and economic terms. It would be a repeat of the mistakes of the past and failure to implement policies."