The number of people recorded as homeless increased to 12,259 last month, including more than 3,500 children, in part due to the end of a Government moratorium on evictions in the rental market.
The figure is an increase of 271 on the numbers homeless in March, when there were 11,988 people living in emergency accommodation, such as hostels, family hubs, hotel rooms or bed and breakfasts.
Latest Department of Housing figures show 8,665 adults were homeless in April, as well as 3,594 children.
The Government moratorium on evictions came to an end on a staggered basis from the start of April.
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The decision not to extend the ban was criticised by Opposition politicians and housing campaigners over fears it would lead to an increase in people being evicted from the rental market into homelessness.
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The latest figures represent an increase of more than a fifth compared to the numbers recorded as homeless in April 2022.
Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said the figures were “another very significant increase in homelessness”, surpassing 12,000 people in emergency accommodation for the first time.
“From the volume of eviction cases we are dealing with in constituency offices across the State, the levels are going to continue rising at significant levels throughout the coming months,” Mr Ó Broin said.
There were 1,733 families in emergency accommodation during the week of April 24th-30th, an increase of more than five per cent in a month.
The monthly figures show more than half of families who were homeless were single-parent families.
Catherine Kenny, head of the Dublin Simon Community, said last week its outreach teams logged three times as many calls than usual in one four-hour period.
The charity was dealing with people “facing imminent homelessness” or already sleeping in cars, as the impact of the end of the eviction ban was starting to be seen, she said.
David Carroll, chief executive of housing charity Depaul, said State targets for building homes needed to be “ramped up” to get people out of temporary accommodation.
The impact of the decision to lift the ban on no-fault evictions would likely continue to be seen in monthly homeless figures into May and June, according to Focus Ireland chief executive Pat Dennigan.
“The most deeply worrying trend is the further increase in the number of homeless children, and we are rapidly reaching the appalling levels we saw before the pandemic,” Mr Dennigan said.
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Labour leader Ivana Bacik said: “Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party have utterly failed the 12,259 people, who are now living in homelessness. Labour are demanding the reintroduction of the eviction ban to protect households in fear of eviction, until the Minister for Housing provides an effective plan for addressing this social crisis.
“Labour has consistently tried to put forward constructive solutions to prevent anyone living in homelessness. We need radical and ambitious plans to provide people with the most basic human need - shelter.”
Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín said the number of people homeless in Ireland today equated to the population of Castlebar. “This is a humanitarian crisis. The overall figures are shocking, but especially the number of homeless children. The government need to stop thinking about solutions and ideas, and actually start implementing them.”
Cian O’Callaghan, Social Democrats housing spokesman, said: “You would be forgiven for thinking the country was bankrupt”, given the numbers who were homeless.
Speaking in Galway, Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan said the April homeless figures were “concerning” but the Government remained committed to increasing the supply of housing.
“[Housing] is our first priority. We are all agreed, all members of the Government, that we have to address that. We said that from the start of our time in Government and that means building more housing – more social housing, more cost-rental housing, more housing in the private market,” he said.
“We are absolutely determined to deliver that housing and to solve the problem. Those figures are concerning but the only best option is to build more, and we are doing that. We will keep doing that and everything we can to provide alternative accommodation.”
Mr Ryan said the Government was turning to new ways of increasing supply and remained confident that they would exceed housing targets in 2023.
“We exceeded our targets last year and I am confident we will do the same this year - and let’s not rest with that. Going forward, with a lot of the new cost-rental models, are the opportunity to actually change the way the housing system works; not just rely on old ways but create new ways of doing things,” he said.
Two-thirds of those in emergency accommodation provided by local authorities were single adults. In the first quarter of this year, 676 adults exited emergency accommodation.
Some 60 per cent of homeless adults were Irish citizens, while 22 per cent were from the UK or Europe, and 18 per cent were migrants from outside Europe.