Homeless figures rise again with almost 13,000 in emergency accommodation

Tánaiste rules out another winter eviction ban, saying ‘the pressing issue is to stop and slow down the exodus from the rental market’

The number of people recorded as homeless in the Republic has increased again to a record 12,847 last month, latest figures show.

The number living in emergency accommodation, such as homeless hostels, family hubs, hotel rooms or bed and breakfasts, increased by 247 people in July, up from 12,600 recorded in June.

The Department of Housing figures, published on Friday, show homelessness increasing across all cohorts: children, families and single adults.

The monthly figures show 3,829 children were homeless last month, an increase of 64 since June and a rise of more than a fifth compared to July last year.


The number of homeless children is approaching a previous record high point, when 3,873 were living in emergency accommodation in September 2019.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin has ruled out another winter eviction ban despite homelessness rising month on month for much of this year.

“I think it would do more harm than good. I think the pressing issue is to stop and slow down the exodus from the rental market,” he said.

The Fianna Fáil leader said any return of an eviction ban would “undermine” efforts to increase supply over the coming years.

“There is huge progress being made in terms of house construction, house commencements. Ultimately, all direction has to be on getting more supply into the market in terms of the rental market, but also more commencements, more house completions,” he said.

The latest figures show 1,839 families were homeless during the week of 24th-30th July, when the count of those in emergency accommodation took place. Nearly six out of ten families in homeless accommodation were single parent families.

There were 9,018 adults recorded as homeless at the end of July, up from 8,835 the previous month.

Some 17 per cent of adults who were homeless were between the age of 18 and 24, while 181 people in homeless accommodation were aged 65 or older.

Just under three quarters of homeless adults were sleeping in emergency accommodation in Dublin.

The data shows 22 per cent of those in emergency accommodation were originally from Europe and the UK, while 19 per cent were people originally from outside of the European Economic Area.

Housing charities and Opposition politicians have repeatedly criticised a decision to end a ban on no-fault evictions at the start of April, which they say has led to more people being evicted from the rental market into homelessness.

Pat Dennigan, chief executive of housing charity Focus Ireland, said the number of children living in homeless accommodation was at an “unacceptable” level.

“The only long-term solution to ending homelessness in Ireland is a rapid build programme of new social and affordable housing, with allocations of social homes used to drive down homelessness,” he said.

The delivery of new housing was “not keeping pace” with the surge in people becoming homeless, Catherine Kenny, chief executive of Dublin Simon Community said.

“We cannot understate the detrimental impact of homelessness on a person’s health and wellbeing,” she said.

“It is a life-altering and traumatising experience, and being stranded in emergency accommodation for an indefinite period exacerbates that trauma,” she said.

Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik said it was “devastating” to see child homelessness increase again.

“As families prepare to return to schools, too many are now facing the unbelievable prospect of doing their homework on a hotel room floor, trying to wash clothes in a bathroom sink and having no where to prepare school lunches,” she said.

Cian O’Callaghan TD, Social Democrats housing spokesman, reiterated calls for the Government to reinstate the eviction ban, which he said had been working.

“Without this basic level of protection, renters are once again exposed to the ever-present danger of eviction. We simply cannot accept the appalling numbers of people becoming homeless,” he said.

Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould described the new record number of homeless as “appalling”. The Cork North Central TD said the longer Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael were in Government, “the worse things get” for ordinary people.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times