Number of homeless exceeds 13,000, figures show

Record number of children in emergency accommodation

The number of homeless people in Ireland has now surpassed the 13,000 mark, including almost 4,000 children.

New figures published by the Department of Housing show that the overall figure stood at 13,179 for October.

Focus Ireland, responding to the latest escalating number, expressed concern at the fact that thousands of children would be “homeless in Ireland this Christmas”, while the Simon Communities of Ireland warned of further rises to come if solutions were not delivered.

Official data for September showed there were 12,827 people residing in emergency accommodation overall, indicating a rise of 352 people for the month.


There were 3,991 child dependants recorded for the month, a figure Focus Ireland said was 15 per cent higher than last year.

The charity’s director of advocacy, Mike Allen, said that while much work was being done in the NGO sector and by the State, the situation faced by so many children was a “disgrace”.

“It is heartbreaking to know that some of these children are only babies and will be spending their first ever Christmas homeless,” he said.

“As we hit new record levels of family and child homelessness it is clear that Housing For All [policy] is utterly insufficient to the challenges we face and that a new strategic response to family homelessness is urgently required.”

The latest Government figures also show that between October 23rd and 29th, 1,939 families were availing of emergency accommodation. Of those, 57 per cent were single parent families.

Wayne Stanley, executive director of the Simon Communities of Ireland, said that more must be done to accelerate solutions as the homeless crisis continues to deepen.

“Based on the figures published today, almost 4,000 children will spend Christmas in homeless emergency accommodation. When family homelessness was declared a crisis in 2014, it was less than 1,000 children,” he said.

“If the trauma of homelessness inflicted on children is not enough to ensure action to address the crisis, what will be the catalyst for change?”

Both homeless charities repeated their calls for a referendum to enshrine a right to a home in the Constitution.

However, Mr Stanley did acknowledge the tenant in situ scheme, where a local authority can purchase a home if the landlord is selling up, appeared to be delivering for hundreds of families.

Sinn Féin’s housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin placed further pressure on Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien to set out his response to the crisis.

“The report shows that in October every single category of homelessness increased on the previous month,” he said.

The Department of Housing statistics relate to the number of homeless people in emergency accommodation and overseen by housing authorities during a specific week, typically the last full week of the month.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times