Numbers in emergency accommodation hit record high of 11,542 despite eviction ban

New data shows a 26.8% rise in number of homeless people over 12-month period

The number of people living in emergency accommodation has risen to a record 11,542, in defiance of a winter ban on evictions that was supposed to curtail rising homelessness.

New Department of Housing data shows there were 2,443 more homeless people in November 2022 than in the same period in 2021, a 26.8 per cent rise in 12 months as the housing shortage intensified. The number of homeless people rose by 145 between October and November.

The data led housing campaigners and the Opposition to call for sharper Government action to tackle the problem.

The Simon Communities of Ireland said the November figures would have seemed “unthinkable” only a year ago and Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin called for emergency measures to increase the provision of social housing.


“The latest rise in homelessness is further evidence that the Government’s housing [policy] is failing,” Mr Ó Broin said.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said the increase justified the moratorium on evictions that continues until April 1st and will be phased out in the period to June. “Regrettably, we have seen a significant increase in the numbers of people experiencing homelessness in the past couple of months,” Mr O’Brien said.

The 11,542 homeless number for November was up from 9,099 in one year. It includes 3,494 children and 8,048 adults, the highest number of adults accessing emergency accommodation since records began. The adults included 5,423 single adults, 67.4 per cent of the total, up 103 in one month to a new record and an increase of 660 in one year.

The data shows the number of homeless children in November rose by 946 in 12 months.

There were 1,616 families in emergency accommodation in November, the highest number of families since February 2020, an increase of 15 families since October. There were 2,625 adults in such families, another record number.

Mr O’Brien insisted homelessness remained a top priority for the Government, saying the budget allocation for homeless services in 2023 had been increased by 10 per cent to €215 million.

“Resources and funding are not an issue to the urgent efforts required. We will use the time of the moratorium period to accelerate the delivery of much-needed social homes which will help those who are experiencing homelessness,” he said.

Simon Communities executive director Wayne Stanley said any failure to boost the availability of affordable housing for homeless people could lead to the ban on evictions being prolonged.

“The actions taken while the current moratorium is in place will go a long way to defining what can be achieved in homelessness in the coming year,” Mr Stanley said.

“Now we need to see momentum on the provision of secure affordable accommodation to those in homelessness in the coming weeks and throughout 2023. Otherwise, we are facing into ongoing extensions and renewals of the eviction ban and that’s not a long-term solution.”

Peter McVerry Trust chief executive Pat Doyle described the new figures as disappointing, saying the focus should be on solutions to curb homelessness.

“The winter eviction moratorium, which is in place until March, is a crucial short-term support to enable the sector to get a handle on the number of people entering homelessness from the private rental market,” he said.

“Short term, we need to ramp up the swift and sustainable delivery of social housing – utilising every opportunity, including bringing vacant and derelict properties back into use as new homes.”

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times