Nearly 3,500 used homeless accommodation at end of 2015

Figure is the highest in any three-month period since the data was first compiled

A study has found an average of 221 adults a night were placed in emergency beds in the last quarter of last year. Photograph: Alan Betson

A study has found an average of 221 adults a night were placed in emergency beds in the last quarter of last year. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Almost 3,500 homeless adults used emergency accommodation in Dublin at the end of last year, the highest number in any three-month period since the figures were first compiled nine years ago.

The figures, in an end-of-year report from the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE), show 5,480 adults used homeless accommodation during 2015, a 10 per cent increase on 2014.

“This was a dramatic increase in service users, most of whom were adults accompanied by children,” says the report.

“The monthly counts in 2015 show an increase over the year from 1,467 adults without children accessing emergency accommodation in a single week in January, to 1,567 in a single week in December . . . This compares with 493 adults with children in January to 939 in December.”

The report is among several documents to be circulated today at a “homelessness forum” called by acting Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly and co-hosted by Minister of State Paudie Coffey.

Nama

It will be attended by NGOs in the sector, representatives from the DRHE, the Housing Agency, the Central Bank and Nama.

There will be discussion about the steps needed to be taken by an incoming minister with responsibility for housing.

The forum comes as figures, also published by the DRHE, show the number of homeless children in Dublin has doubled in a year, with 1,616 children in 790 families in homeless accommodation last month.

This represents a 101 per cent increase in the number of homeless children since February 2015 when there were 803 children in 371 families in emergency accommodation.

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children said the Government must prioritise child protection in tackling the homelessness crisis.

It has called for risk assessments before any child is placed in any hotel or B&B accommodation to ensure it meets their needs.

Chief executive Grainia Long said, as in other jurisdictions such as England and Scotland, children should only be placed in emergency accommodation in exceptional circumstances and for limited periods.

The DRHE end-of-year report cites a “significantly higher risk of poverty” among families becoming homeless than in the general population.

It finds 75 per cent of homeless families who took part in research were at risk of poverty, compared with 16 per cent in the general population.

Sleeping bags

All emergency beds were at 99 per cent occupancy each night.

An average of 18 sleeping bags were given out each night to rough sleepers.

On the night of November 30th last year, 91 people were found sleeping rough, while 61 adults were in the “night cafe”.

“On that night there were also 3,766 beds provided in emergency accommodation – for 2,345 adults and 1,424 accompanying dependants.”

This was a 71 per cent increase in the number of beds occupied on a comparable night in 2014.

People who access emergency accommodation are staying longer, says the report.

Some 54 per cent had been there six months or more in September last year.