Number of homeless people drops slightly but remains above 8,000

Total of 8,238 people homeless in February, including 2,264 children, latest data shows

Focus Ireland says it is concerned there could be an increase in homelessness when the eviction ban is lifted as the 5km travel restriction is eased

Focus Ireland says it is concerned there could be an increase in homelessness when the eviction ban is lifted as the 5km travel restriction is eased

 

More than 8,000 people remain homeless in Ireland although the total number has dropped slightly compared with figures at the start of the year.

Data from the Department of Housing shows there were 8,238 people who were homeless in February, compared with 8,313 in the previous month.

There was a slight drop in homeless adults from 5,987 to 5,974, and the number of children who are homeless dropped to 2,264.

Overall, homeless figures have been dropping since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The figures show there are 3,951 men who are homeless and 2,023 homeless women.

There are 935 homeless families in Ireland, a figure which has continued to fall since last year.

Focus Ireland said it was encouraged by the drop in homeless figures following an effort to reduce the numbers after the eviction ban was brought in by the Government last year.

However, the charity said it was concerned there could be an increase in homelessness when the measure is lifted. The eviction ban is valid only when people’s movement is restricted to 5km from their home as part of Covid-19 rules, which is expected to be eased from April 5th.

Ensured protection

Focus Ireland chief executive Pat Dennigan said: “If the 5km movement restriction is lifted, this means that many renters will face the prospect of an eviction while we continue to live with very serious restrictions and while the public health crisis remains acute.

“The Government must ensure that tenants continue to be protected after the 5km restriction is lifted and must secure that, going forward, protections from evictions are not tied to any movement restriction.

“Focus Ireland believes there should be a moratorium on all evictions while there are restrictions on visits to other households – as evicted households will inevitably be forced to break these measures with well-understood health risks.

“A broader eviction ban will help to keep people safe in their homes and prevent homeless services from becoming stretched.”

The charity said it continues to have a concern over the number of homeless single adults, which has risen in the past year.

It believes the Covid protections for tenants in the private sector did not provide the same level of security for single people as they appear to have done for families.

Mr Dennigan added: “During the pandemic, family breakdowns and people having to give up informal housing arrangements, such as sofa-surfers, no doubt account for a proportion of single people who are homeless.

“There is still a huge shortage of one-bed apartments in Ireland, which would be the preferred accommodation for many of the single adults who are becoming trapped in this system.” – PA