Focus Ireland, A&L Goodbody, Mercy Law Resource Centre and the Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA) released a report 'Housing Rights and Homelessness: lessons from a pro bono partnership' which sets out the successes from the first year of their pro bono partnership providing legal advice to people facing homelessness.
The report details the experiences of an innovative Housing Law Clinic operated from the Focus Ireland ‘Coffee Shop’ service in Temple Bar. The Housing Law Clinic is a partnership between Focus Ireland, A&L Goodbody, and Mercy Law Resource Centre which was supported and facilitated by the PILA. It consists of free legal advice given to people who are homeless or at risk of losing their homes at weekly clinics, with follow up legal representation where appropriate.
The Irish legal aid system does not provide assistance in the case of housing issues and this creates a real obstacle for those experiencing homelessness or housing instability to access legal advice. The Housing Law Clinic constitutes an innovative pro bono solution which draws on the knowledge and experience of housing and homelessness advocates, housing law experts and solicitors.
The report details the history and expansion of the Housing Law Clinic and the impact of the service on those who have accessed it, giving case studies of people who were helped and experiences of the legal professionals who participated.
Thanks to the partnership approach, the service has been able to respond to the escalating crisis and help more people. 300 appointments were scheduled by the service in 2018, a 125% increase on the number of cases in 2017, prior to the new service.