Homeless services deal with almost 1,000 children

Figures show 55% increase in number of homeless families in Dublin since last June

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly.  Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

Almost 1,000 children in Dublin are homeless and living in emergency accommodation, the latest official figures show.

The figures, from the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE), show that during the week of March 23rd to March 29th there were 411 families in emergency accommodation in the capital with 911 children.

Some 251 of these were headed by single parents, and 160 by couples. The total number of adults and children in family units in emergency accommodation last month was 1,482.

These figures compare with 371 families with 803 children in emergency accommodation in Dublin the previous month and represent the biggest monthly increase since the family homelessness crisis in the capital began to escalate last year.

The latest figures also represent a 55 per cent increase in the number of homeless families in the capital since June last year, and a 60 per cent increase in the number of children. In that month, which is when comparable data was first gathered, there were 264 families with 567 children in emergency accommodation.

Sharp increase

The number of children who have lost their homes in Dublin has increased almost every month since then. Between December and January there was a sharp increase from 331 families with 726 children to 359 families with 780 children.

The vast majority of these families are coming from the private rented sector, where in Dublin rents increased by an average of 7 per cent from €1,216 to €1,301 for houses last year and by 10.9 per cent, from €1,051 to €1,166, for apartments.

A spokeswoman for the DRHE, which co-ordinates homeless services across the four local authorities in the capital, said services were “managing an unprecedented demand for [emergency accommodation] in the Dublin region”.

“Local authority staff are working on a daily basis to ensure that families who are at risk of imminent homelessness can be accommodated and can avoid the experience of sleeping rough,” said the spokeswoman.

Priority

The numbers continue to increase despite commitments from the Taoiseach and the Department of the Environment that tackling family homelessness was a priority.

In November last year, when questioned in the Dáil by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin about the figures, Enda Kenny said no one could condone homelessness among children.

He said the issue was a priority for Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly and the Government.

Since then the number of homeless families has increased by 104 and the number of homeless children by 231.

“Until you get to the point where you actually provide sufficient social housing, you cannot lessen the scale of demand here,” said Mr Kenny.

Mike Allen, head of advocacy with Focus Ireland, said the key factor triggering homelessness was the decision last month, by the Department of Social Protection, not to increase rent supplement rates.

The highest rent a couple with two children, in receipt of rent supplement, may pay in Dublin is €975 per month and €900 in Fingal.

“This has left families unable to afford the rents which landlords now demand. The mass eviction and homelessness of large numbers of workless families is the direct and inevitable consequence of the Department of Social Protection’s policy,” said Mr Allen.