Homelessness in Ireland hits record peak of more than 11,700

Call for extension to eviction ban as numbers in emergency accommodation in Dublin up 31% since January 2022

Agencies working in the sector are calling on government to extend the ban on evictions, due to expire at the end of March. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell

Homelessness in Ireland has hit another record high, according to figures published on Friday.

The data, from the Department of Housing, show the number of homeless people now stands at 11,754, including 3,431 children – the highest number of homeless individuals since current records began in 2014.

Both totals have increased by about a third in a year – from 9,150 and 2,563 respectively in January 2022.

The children were in 1,609 homeless families – compared with 1,119 a year before – 55 per cent of which were headed by lone parents.

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The data, for the week of January 23rd-29th, show there were 8,323 adults in emergency accommodation, an increase of 133 (1.6 per cent) on the 8,190 in December. This is the highest number of adults ever recorded accessing emergency accommodation and represents an increase of 1,736 (26.4 per cent) on the 6,587 in January 2022.

Looking at single adults, there were 5,670 in emergency accommodation in January – up 18 per cent from 4,788 a year previously.

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In Dublin, the numbers are up significantly too, with now 8,523 people in emergency accommodation – up 31 per cent on the 6,508 in January 2022. These include 2,577 children, compared with 1,928 a year ago. They are in 1,165 families, of which 51 per cent are headed by lone parents.

A total of 3,913 single adults were in emergency accommodation in the capital last month, up 22 per cent on the 3,194 in January 2022.

Since May 2022 local authorities have gathered data on the nationality of all adults in emergency accommodation. In January 5,042 (61 per cent) were Irish, 1,840 (22 per cent) were from the EEA or UK, and, 1,141 (17 per cent) were from outside the EEA.

Agencies working in the sector are calling on government to extend the ban on evictions, due to expire at the end of March.

Focus Ireland’s chief executive, Pat Dennigan, said the ban had been “essential” when introduced and conditions for vulnerable households in the rented sector had not changed. Their situation would “rapidly become worse” if it was ended when scheduled.

“What has failed is the Government’s attempts to use the breathing space [offered by the ban] to make a real difference,” he added.

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Depaul called for a “three to six-month extension” of the ban, while the Simon Communities called for an extension “not defined by a period of time, but by clear achievable objectives that would see the opportunity taken to get in advance of the homelessness crisis”.

Sinn Féin spokesman on housing, Eoin Ó Broin, said the increases were “a direct result of [Minster for Housing] Darragh O’Brien’s failure to deliver a sufficient volume of social and affordable homes.

“Why is he not using emergency planning and procurement powers. Why is he not accessing vacant homes and using new building technologies. Why is there no emergency response?

“Government must immediately announce an extension of the ban on evictions, due to end on March 31st. Failure to do this will see homeless levels rise even more dramatically. Crucially, government must introduce an emergency package of measures to reduce the number of singles and families becoming homeless and to speed up the number of exits from emergency accommodation.”

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times