Number of people in homeless accommodation down slightly

Department of Housing figure down 1% from March to April, but up 20% on April 2017

A homeless man sleeps on Custom House Quay. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

A homeless man sleeps on Custom House Quay. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The number of people in homeless accommodation has fallen slightly, from 6,035 in March to 5,963 in April, according to latest figures from the Department of Housing.

However, the figures represent a 19.9 per cent increase on the April 2017 figure of 4,972. They also come amid ongoing controversy over the removal of 578 people from the March figures compared with the February figures, under a reclassification exercise by the department.

There were also warnings on Wednesday from a number of charities that as many as 20,000 people were living in “hidden homelessness” – in other words, without their own homes and living in overcrowded conditions with families or friends.

The April figures show there were 3,689 children in 1,712 families in emergency homeless accommodation, compared with 3,646 children in 1,720 families in March. These figures represent a 36 per cent increase in the number of homeless children since April 2017, when there were 2,708, and a 31 per cent increase in the number of homeless families in the same year, up from 1,302.

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said: “The report shows a reduction in the number of adults and families accessing emergency accommodation, which is welcome.

“I have said before that monthly reporting makes it difficult to identify any developing trends at an early stage, but from these figures it would seem that the presentation of new families in to emergency accommodation is stabilising.

“That said, while the number of families in emergency accommodation is down this month, a small number of families with a large number of children did present, meaning that the number of dependents has risen by 43.”

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on housing Darragh O’Brien said the State was “encouraging people and families into hidden homelessness by failing to provide pathways towards long-term housing solutions.

“Homelessness is sadly no longer just about those sleeping rough on our streets or the thousands of people living in temporary accommodation but also about the sizeable number hidden from our view and exempt from housing supports.

“Those who have found themselves to be without a place to call home, hidden from official statistics and not receiving support, can find themselves in precarious situations, including couch surfing.