Number of homeless children almost doubled in some parts of country

Homeless children numbers in Clare and Limerick up 120% since July 2017

 Protestors at Number 34 North Frederick Street protesting against a court injunction directing the occupants of the house to leave. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Protestors at Number 34 North Frederick Street protesting against a court injunction directing the occupants of the house to leave. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

The number of homeless children has more than doubled in some parts of the country in the past year and continues to increase across the State, the latest figures show.

In Dublin, almost 700 families became homeless in the first seven months of 2018. Four families a day presented as homeless last month, one service’s figures show.

The latest homelessness figures, published by the Department of Housing on Wednesday, show the Government was “further away” than ever from addressing the crisis, said one housing charity, while another said the Government needed now to “wake up and accept their policies are not working”.

The department’s data show there were 9,891 people in emergency accommodation during the week of July 23rd to 29th, including 6,024 adults and 3,867 children. This compares with 9,872 people (6,048 adults and 3,824 children) in June.

Compared with July 2017, the figures are up 21 per cent for adults (8,160 a year ago) and 30 per cent for children (2,973) nationally.

Regional figures

Sharp regional increases in the number of homeless children in the past year are seen, for example, in the mid-west, which includes counties Clare and Limerick, where the number of homeless children is up 120 per cent since July 2017 – from 80 to 176.

The mid-east – counties Kildare, Meath and Wicklow – has experienced a 98 per cent increase in child homelessness, from 65 to 129.

In the southwest – Cork and Kerry – numbers are up 78 per cent from 143 to 255. In the west – counties Galway, Mayo and Roscommon – child homelessness is up 77 per cent, from 118 to 209.

In the southeast – Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford – there are 73 per cent more homeless children than a year ago – up from 41 to 71.

In the midlands – counties Laois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath – the increase is 51 per cent, from 55 to 83, while in Dublin numbers are up 19 per cent, from 2,423 homeless children to 2,894.

One region, the northeast – Louth, Monaghan and Cavan – saw a 10 per cent decrease, from 48 to 43.

In the northwest – Donegal, Leitrim and Sligo – there were no homeless children in July 2017 and seven last month. Numbers in the region have typically been between five and 16 since the start of last year.

‘Significant progress’

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said the numbers presenting as homeless in Dublin “remains a concern despite significant progress in exiting individuals and families into independent tenancies”.

Focus Ireland, the lead non-statutory agency working with homeless families, said the Government was “further away” than ever in dealing with the crisis and “new and better policies are needed”. Its figures show four families a day became homeless in Dublin last month.

“A shocking total of 122 families, with 270 children, became newly homeless in Dublin in July. This is the second-highest monthly total for the number of families becoming homeless in Dublin since records began almost six years ago.”

The children’s charity Barnardos said: “The Government must wake up and accept their policies are not working. Too much time has been wasted papering over the cracks when what children need is decisive action with long-term solutions.”

The Simon Community described the figures as “deeply worrying”.

No confidence

Sinn Féin’s housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said: “Minister Murphy and his Government are failing to tackle the crisis, while Fianna Fáil sits on its hands.”

Both Sinn Féin and Labour have both said they are considering tabling a motion of no confidence in the Minister for Housing.

Last night, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said he fully supports the Minister.

“Eoghan Murphy is working so hard and is fully committed and has my full support as Minister for Housing and the work that he is doing,” he said.

“I believe nobody will make as much of a difference in ensuring we have good homes for our citizens as Eoghan is doing in the course of his work as Minister. I stand full square in supporting him now and in the future.”

Mr Donohoe said it is a matter for Fianna Fail if they wish to support a motion of no confidence in Eoghan Murphy and potentially bring down the Government.

“That is a matter for Fianna Fail. That is a matter for political parties regarding what they do. What matter most to Eoghan and I, is the difference in support that we can offer to people who are dealing with the massive difficulty in their life if they face homelessness,” he said.