Fall in number of homeless overshadowed by recent deaths

Almost 8,660 people, including 2,583 children, without a home at end of September

Dublin Simon Community cautioned that while the number of families in emergency accommodation had dropped, the number of homeless single people had continued to rise. File photograph: The Irish Times

Dublin Simon Community cautioned that while the number of families in emergency accommodation had dropped, the number of homeless single people had continued to rise. File photograph: The Irish Times

 

The number of people homeless and requiring emergency accommodation has dropped nearly 17 per cent in a year, according to the latest figures from the Department of Housing.

In all, 8,656 people, including 2,583 children, were homeless and accessing emergency accommodation at the end of September, down 46 on the August figures and a fall from 10,397 people this time last year.

The numbers, however, came on a day when it emerged that a homeless Polish man in his 60s who had been sleeping rough had died in Wexford on Friday morning.

Gardaí were alerted when the man’s body was found along the Newtown Road in Wexford at about 7.30am. It remained until the afternoon, while examinations were underway.

The man’s death comes less than a week after the body of a 31-year-old woman was found in Clondalkin. A day before, the body of a man in his 40s was found in Dublin’s city centre. More than 50 homeless people have died so far this year.

Of the 8,656 people accessing emergency accommodation, 4,251 are in Dublin, 419 are in Cork, 224 are in Limerick, 209 are in Galway, 136 are in Kildare and another 136 are in Meath, according to the the Monthly Homeless Report published on Saturday.

What about families?

There were 1,128 families in emergency accommodation at the end of September, a slight rise from the 1,120 in August 2020 but a decrease from 1,756 in September of last year.

The vast majority of these families, which include 635 single-parent households, are in Dublin. Nearly three-quarters of all those taking emergency accommodation beds are singles.

The number of children or dependents in emergency accommodation dropped from 2,620 in August to 2,583 at the end of September. This is a 33 per cent fall on the 3,873 children recorded as homeless this time last year.

The September figures for children are the lowest since February 2017. In all, 1,350 adults and children exited homelessness during July, August and September.

Commending the Government for reintroducing the evictions ban, Focus Ireland director Pat Dennigan nevertheless called for a “longer-term and more consistent” action to restrict evictions.

Introducing a ban only in the most extreme situation was not enough to protect vulnerable households, said Mr Dennigan, who called for a “broader eviction ban” to prevent homeless services becoming stretched over the winter.

Acknowledging that the numbers have fallen, Dublin Simon Community director Sam McGuinness cautioned that the number of homeless single people had continued to rise.

Meanwhile, the Department of Housing acknowledged that the figures remain “far too high”, and noted, too, those who spend the longest periods in emergency accommodation have the fewest hopes of getting settled.

Paying tribute to local authorities and housing charities, the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, said extra State funding for homelessness services would help significantly more people.

In this year’s budget, €218 million has been put aside for homeless services, up from €196 million last year . More help will be offered for rough sleepers and for more family hubs, he said.