Homeless crisis to worsen in coming months, Simon Community warns

Twin-track approach needed to increase social homes and improve prevention, Focus Ireland says

The homelessness crisis in Ireland is set to worsen in the months ahead with a dramatic fall in the amount of affordable rental accommodation on the market likely to see more people living on the streets or relying on emergency accommodation, the Simon Community has warned.

According to figures published by the Department of Housing on Friday afternoon, there were more than 8,100 homeless people in the State last month including more than 2,100 children.

There were 8,132 people in emergency accommodation in July. While the figure represented a fall of 596 since July 2020, it was a rise of 1.5 per cent on the numbers recorded in June.

There were 3,942 men and 2,061 women recorded as homeless, with an additional 930 families needing housing support from the State including 1,502 adults and 2,129 child dependants.


Despite the seven per cent fall in numbers accessing emergency accommodation year on year, the Simon Communities of Ireland said there had been a 20 per cent deterioration in the availability of affordable rental properties across the country.

The charity said the “sharp deterioration in affordable housing is concerning and may indicate that there will be an upward trend in those entering homelessness in the coming months”.

Its spokesman Wayne Stanley said the “rapid drop in market supply has added to the chronic lack of affordable housing in the market. We need to see action now to protect those at risk of homelessness and ensure there won’t be a sharp increase in those entering emergency accommodation in the coming months.”

Housing For All strategy

Focus Ireland said the Government's long-waited new Housing For All strategy set to come before Cabinet next week will have to take a twin-track approach to increase social housing provision and improve prevention.

The homeless charity said that many indicators are pointing to further increases in homelessness later this year as the private rental market constricts and the number of evictions rises.

“We are hopeful that the Government strategy will include ambitious targets to deliver more social housing and this needs to be backed up by a clear implementation plan,” Focus Ireland’s director of advocacy Mike Allen said. “However, the strategy must also include immediate measures to better prevent families and individuals becoming homeless while the new social housing is being constructed.’’

He said that “solid progress” in reducing the number of people who are homeless by more than 2,000 people during the pandemic shows what can be achieved through partnership and targeted prevention measures.

“There’s been great progress, particularly in relation to the number of families homeless in the last 18 months. This was achieved through the very swift response to the pandemic with measures such as the temporary ban on all evictions,” he said. “There was also an increase in housing stock in the private rental market and local authorities fast-tracked access to social housing.”

However, Mr Allen said the Government had “decided not to continue many of the policies that were so effective in reducing the number of people becoming homeless – such as greater protections against evictions. Our services across the country are reporting a wave of landlords taking advantage of rising house prices to sell-up and they are evicting their tenants as a result.”

He said the “fear of homelessness among these people who suddenly find themselves vulnerable is very great. This shows again that the underlying causes of the crisis have not been addressed and must be in the Government’s Housing For All strategy.”

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast