Number of homeless people in Ireland rises above 8,000

Total figure down slightly since since last year but has risen since last month

The number of people homeless in the State has risen above 8,000 again, according to latest figures from the Department of Housing, although the total has decreased slightly on a year-by-year comparison.

Data from the Department of Housing shows there were 8,014 people accessing emergency accommodation in June 2021, representing an increase of 23 on the previous month, however, the figure was 685 below the 8,699 recorded one year previously.

The total number of homeless people, including dependants, stood at 7,991 in May.

Of the homeless adults recorded in June, 77 per cent were single adults.

There were 932 families in emergency accommodation in June, an increase of four since May, while a total of 2,167 dependants, associated with these families, were in emergency accommodation, representing an increase of 19 since May.

Focus Ireland director of advocacy Mike Allen said the increase in family homelessness in June was a “stark reminder of how precarious the progress in tackling homelessness really is”.

“High rents are continuing to put families under pressure while they are also juggling the high cost of childcare during a global pandemic. Many households are experiencing increased financial stress as we reopen the economy, which is leading to families being on the verge of homelessness,” he said.

Pandemic response

While there had been “great progress” in the last year in reducing the overall homelessness figures, this was a result of “an immediate response to the pandemic with welcome measures like the eviction moratorium rather than a long-term plan,” Mr Allen said.

“We have to remember that even with the recent progress, the number of families homeless remains four times the level it was in 2014.”

In a similar vein, Simon Communities of Ireland said it was “concerned that the reduction in homelessness during the pandemic will be short lived”.

Its national spokesman Wayne Stanley said the latest Residential Tenancies Board research indicated that rents grew by 4.5 per cent year-on-year and that there has been a decline in the number of tenancies registered, which was “particularly worrying” and would “drive a further lack of affordability experienced across the country”.

He added: “We cannot continue to delay the release of the next housing strategy.”

The Dublin Simon Community said there was a “spiralling” number of single people in the capital becoming homeless.

Its head of policy Pat Greene said there was an average of 142 single adults becoming newly homeless in Dublin each month this year, which was higher than the average in 2020.

The charity “hoped to see a focus on prevention and move-ons out of emergency accommodation into housing” in the Government’s homeless strategy.

One-bed homes

Speaking about the latest figures Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said, “despite this welcome reduction [since last year], the numbers are still far too high and that is why, as a Government, we are focussing heavily on one-bedroom homes.”

Mr O’Brien also highlighted the extension of Housing First measures beyond Dublin to other regions aimed at giving “wrap-around supports” to former rough sleepers.

“We thankfully recorded the lowest levels of child and family homelessness for five years during this past quarter and will be looking to build further upon this progress under [the] Housing for All [plan],” the Minister said.

“A very welcome trend has been the continued reduction in families being accommodated in commercial hotels in the Dublin region, with an 81 per cent reduction when compared to the same point last year. In March 2017 there were 871 homeless families in commercial hotels in Dublin. That figure has thankfully decreased considerably – to 65 in June 2021.”