Campaigners today warned of the danger of Budget cuts for social housing as the Government deadline to end homelessness looms.
Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, life president of Focus Ireland, said a lack of state funding for rough sleepers risks repeating the crisis of the 1980s.
Marking the organisation’s 25th anniversary, Sister Stan said successive governments have failed to tackle homelessness despite the Celtic Tiger boom.
“We would be failing in our duty to the 5,000 people who are homeless today - and thousands at risk – if we did not warn the Government that a continued failure to provide housing for those in most need will lead to an entrenched homeless crisis,” she said.
“There are people who are homeless who are ready to move on today but they are trapped in emergency accommodation as there are no homes for them.”
Sister Stan also warned thousands more people are at risk of losing their homes - with some becoming homeless due to the severe impact of the recession.
More than 36,000 mortgage holders are three months behind in repayments, official arrears figures showed earlier this month.
Focus Ireland is marking 25 years with an awareness campaign to keep homelessness on the public and political agenda and raise funds for services for more than 5,500 people each year.
Joyce Loughnan, Focus chief executive, said: “We will continue to work hard towards helping to achieve the agreed Government target of ending long-term homelessness and the need to sleep rough by the end of 2010.
“In such a climate it would be disastrous if the Government was to use the Budget to cut existing levels of funding to homeless services – especially if there is a continued failure to provide housing for those most in need.”
Focus Ireland noted Department of the Environment figures which showed 2,700 people homeless and 43,000 households on housing waiting lists in 1991.
They also showed there are now up to 5,000 homeless and housing lists with a record 100,000 households.
Focus Ireland was founded by Sister Stan in September 1985 when the charity opened its coffee shop, advice and information centre in Temple Bar.
It was set up as a direct response to the lack of services for homeless people in Dublin at that time.