Number of homeless people drops below 10,000
Decline of more than 700 people between November and December 2019
A significant factor in the reduction in homelessness has been an increased output of social housing by housing bodies like the Peter McVerry Trust, its chief executive Pat Doyle has said. File photograph: PA
Figures showing a fall in the number of homeless people to below 10,000 for the first time in almost a year have been widely welcomed.
The latest data, published on Wednesday by the Department of Housing, show there were 9,713 people in emergency accommodation during the week of December 23-29th 2019.
This compares with 10,448 the previous month – a fall of 736. It also represents a reduction on the December 2018 figures when 9,753 were recorded as homeless.
The figures for the end of 2019 include 3,422 children in 1,548 families - a significant reduction of 330 children compared with November (3,752).
Homeless figures have fallen every December compared with the previous month since 2014 (when data was first gathered in its current format) as homeless people stay with families and as landlords delay evictions during the Christmas period, only to rise again in January. In January 2019 the numbers increased by 273 to 9,987.
Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said on Wednesday he knew the decrease was “not enough” and the numbers “in crisis [was]unacceptably high, but the change in 2019 is a move in the right direction”.
Since July last year, he said, the number of families presenting as homeless in Dublin had been falling each month.
“People are spending less time in emergency accommodation than before, with the majority spending less than 12 months before they are found a home. For every two families that present as homeless, one is found a home immediately and does not enter emergency accommodation at all.”
The Peter McVerry Trust welcomed “one of the largest recorded monthly decreases” in the figures. Chief executive Pat Doyle said a significant factor had been an increased output of social housing by housing bodies like the Trust.
“Irish Council for Social Housing members played a key role in helping to secure housing solutions in 2019 with a 44 per cent increase in the number of households housed by housing associations last year.
“The challenge now is to keep housing delivery up all year round and to ensure that we continue to provide housing solutions, particularly for single people.”
The numbers first rose above 10,000 in February 2019 when they increased to 10,624 people.