Number of people recorded as homeless increases to 8,212 as charity calls for ‘urgent action’

Homeless charities report ‘alarm’ at high numbers of younger homeless adults

There were 6,023 homeless adults in the State last month, two thirds of which were men. The majority, some 4,220 adults, were based in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

There were 6,023 homeless adults in the State last month, two thirds of which were men. The majority, some 4,220 adults, were based in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

 

The number of people recorded as homeless has increased for the third month in a row, up to 8,212, which includes more than 2,000 children, according to latest Department of Housing figures.

The numbers of homeless people in the State fell significantly following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, down from nearly 10,000 people without accommodation in March 2020.

In recent months the number of people without a home has steadily risen, up to 8,212 people in August, an increase of 80 compared to the previous month.

Homeless charity Focus Ireland has said it was “very worried” the homeless crisis will worsen in the coming months, “due to rocketing rents and a rising number of evictions unless urgent action is taken.”

There were 6,023 homeless adults in the State last month, two thirds of which were men. The majority, some 4,220 adults, were based in Dublin, according to the figures published on Friday.

There were more than 980 homeless adults aged between 18 and 24, and 127 people in homelessness who were older than 65 years of age.

The monthly figures show there were 953 families recorded as homeless, over 700 of whom were based in Dublin, accounting for 1,710 homeless children.

Mike Allen, director of advocacy at Focus Ireland, said it was disappointing the Government had decided to discontinue many Covid-19 policies “that were so effective in helping to cut the number of people homeless by 2000 since early 2020”.

“We fear this will now leave many more families and individuals at risk of homelessness this winter as the housing crisis deepens,” he said.

Mr Allen said while the Government’s latest Housing for All plan committed to ending homelessness by 2030, the strategy was “lacking detail” about how that would be achieved.

The increase in the number of young homeless adults, aged between 18 and 24, to the highest number on record of 984 was “real and alarming,” he said.

Toll of emergency accommodation

Sam McGuinness, chief executive of homeless charity Dublin Simon, said more than half of clients they worked with had been homeless for more than three years.

“This population is desperate to exit homelessness and yet they are spending longer than ever before in emergency accommodation. This group deserves far better lives than the ones they are currently living,” he said.

Long periods in emergency accommodation was taking a “toll” on people, with Dublin Simon’s treatment and crisis counselling services in increasing demand, he said.

Pat Doyle, chief executive of Peter McVerry Trust, said the charity was currently in “the busiest time of year for social housing delivery”. He was hopeful the number of homeless people provided homes would “significantly increase” in the coming months.

There was “renewed momentum” to tackle homelessness following the Government’s new housing plan, he said.

“We need to quickly get onto a steady downward trajectory if we are to make the target of ending homelessness by 2030,” he said.

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin TD said it was “unfortunately not surprising that these figures have shown another increase”.

He criticised the fact that protections for renters introduced during Covid-19 had been “stripped away by the Government,” adding that the leading cause of family homelessness was landlords deciding to sell properties.

Labour Party Senator Rebecca Moynihan said “every month we now see the homelessness figures creeping up,” with children and young people suffering the most.

“The eviction ban during the pandemic severely curtailed the rise of homelessness and we had started to see a fall but now it’s going in the wrong direction again,” she said.

Social Democrats TD Cian O’Callaghan said the continued increase in the numbers of people left homeless in recent months was “deeply concerning”.