A record almost 11,000 people are now homeless as charities urge immediate action
28th October 2022
The number of people who are officially homeless has risen for the ninth month in a row to 10,975, the latest figures published by the Department of Housing today show.
The monthly figures for September have reached a new record level for the third consecutive month.
Social Democrats TD Cian O’Callaghan, who is the party’s housing spokesperson said:. “Figures released today show the highest number of people experiencing homelessness and living in emergency accommodation ever recorded. There are now 10,975 people living in emergency accommodation, with 3,342 of them children.”
He said: “Homelessness causes huge suffering to those who experience it and can have lasting effects on the development of a child.
Meanwhile, Focus Ireland said the latest statistics are an increase of 170 since the previous August figure of 10,805 and a 2,500 increase from only a year ago (8,475 in September 2021).
Over the last few months, Focus Ireland said it has warned that all emergency homeless accommodation is full and there is now a waiting list in some local authorities of vulnerable families who now can’t even get a bed for the night.
It said that one consequence of this is that the monthly figures increasingly fail to reflect the scale of the challenge, as the limited number of emergency beds essentially sets a ceiling on the official figures, with growing numbers of ‘hidden homeless’ not counted such as couch surfers, families ‘doubling up’ with friends and family and even people sleeping in tents and cars.
Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said: “It’s a reality that the monthly homeless figures are now a reflection of people only in emergency accommodation, the actual number of people homeless is in fact considerably higher.
“Unlike many European countries even at the height of the homeless crisis over the last 10 years, Ireland managed to avoid families sleeping in tents or their cars, now this grim prospect is a reality.
“More social and affordable housing is the long-term solution but in the short term we immediately need more emergency accommodation as homeless services such as Focus Ireland’s frontline team are being stretched to their maximum capacity. The prospect is looking increasingly grim this winter unless there is an urgent response to avoid more trauma for families across the country.”
Meanwhile, the national housing and homeless charity, Peter McVerry Trust, said it was disappointed with today’s homeless figures but said that the upcoming eviction ban – which is due to be signed into law by President Michael D Higgins in the coming days – will help to stem the flow of people entering homelessness in Ireland.
Pat Doyle, CEO of Peter McVerry Trust, “The figures released today are disappointing, it’s not the direction we want to see them going. The eviction ban, which we proposed to the Minister for Housing in September, was recently passed by the Dáil and will be signed into law in the coming days. This is a vital part of tackling the problem and will allow the homeless sector time to address rising homeless numbers.”
“A no-fault eviction ban will keep vulnerable tenants in their homes during the coldest months of the year whilst also protecting landlords from anti-social behaviour.”
“With winter starting next week, it is critical that those who are experiencing homelessness are supported and encouraged to engage with services. We will be working with our partners to provide extra emergency beds for those who need them during this period. Our staff will work with anyone availing of the beds to provide the support they need to leave homelessness behind for good.”
Ctherine Kenny, CEO of Dublin Simon Community, said: “The time to be creative and innovative is now. There needs to be innovation in the approach to vacant properties and new models of housing and accommodation; it has been clear for quite some time that the current system is just not working.”
The figures, released by the Department of Housing today showed the number of new families entering emergency accommodation increased between quarter two and quarter three of this year by 2.7pc.
The report shows that of those accessing emergency accommodation on the week of September 19 – 25, 7,633 were adults, as well as 1,532 families and 3,342 children.
The report states that almost half of both single and family households accessing emergency accommodation on the last night of September had been in emergency accommodation for less than six months.
Commenting on the findings of the report, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien said: “We are seeing a continued increase in the numbers of people accessing emergency accommodation and the situation is very challenging.”
He added: “Fully aware of the risks of homelessness faced by renters this coming winter, the Government has just legislated to protect renters who are facing homelessness by deferring any ‘no fault’ tenancy terminations from taking place this winter.
“While this emergency measure is necessary and will provide assistance in the short-term, the long-term answer to our accommodation challenges, including combating homelessness, remains an increased and sustainable supply of new housing.”
David Carroll, Chief Executive of the charity Depaul, said he is “saddened” by the figures and they demonstrate the “critical need” for an “all of government approach” to reducing homelessness.
Through its winter plan, he said Depaul will ensure that its 811 beds in the Republic are “available and are fully utilised”.
He said the moratorium on evictions “requires close monitoring” and landlords who are contemplating leaving the market must be “encouraged” to approach local authorities before doing so.
“Local authorities have a key role to play in delivering on housing stock and must be equipped to manage any stock that comes this way from this source,” he added.
“We are appealing to landlords who are exiting the market to contact their local authorities to offer the properties for sale and that the tenants in situ can remain.
“Whilst we recognise that efforts are being made to deliver on housing supply, more needs to be done to respond effectively to housing needs and to reduce homelessness. Therefore we must again examine ways in which vacant stock can be brought into commission before the ending of the no fault eviction ban in 2023.”