Some 1,500 children in emergency accommodation

Almost 5,000 people in temporary shelter across State, Department of Environment says

The escalating homelessness crisis will be discussed at the Cabinet Sub Committee on Social Policy, chaired by the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny today (monday).

A senior source confirmed the issue would be among the main items on the agenda, as figures just published show there are now almost 5,000 people in emergency accommodation across the State, nearly 1,500 of them children, latest government data shows.

This equates to the population of a small town such as Ardee, Co Louth or Blessington, Co Wicklow.

According to the figures from the Department of the Environment, there are 4,868 people in emergency accommodation across the nine regions of the State - 3,372 of them adults and 1,496 are children.


Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has issued a statement to accompany the publication of the monthly homeless persons data.

He notes an increase of 514 people, or almost 20 per cent, in the number of homeless adults since December 2014, when there were 2,858 in emergency accommodation.

This is being largely driven by the increasing number of parents with children presenting as homeless. Some 959 parents with children accessed emergency accommodation last month, compared with 539 in January.

Of their 1,496 children, 85 per cent are in Dublin. There are 1,275 children in 607 families in emergency accommodation in the capital. This represents a 63 per cent increase in the number homeless children in Dublin since January when there were 780 children, in 359 families.

Nationally there has been a 72 per cent increase in the number of homeless children and a 76 per cent increase in families since January, from 865 in 410 families, to 1496 children in 707 families.

Outside Dublin the increases are sharper however, with a 160 per cent increase in the number of children in emergency accommodation – from 85 in January to 221 last month, and a 138 per cent increase in the number of homeless families outside Dublin, from 42 in January to 100 last month.

In both Dublin and outside the capital, about two thirds of the homeless families are headed by single parents. Of the 100 families in emergency accommodation outside Dublin last month, 27 were headed by couples and 73 by single parents.

Again in Dublin, of the 607 families, 225 (37 per cent) are headed by couples, with 382 (63 per cent) headed by single parents.

The number of homeless adults without dependents, in emergency accommodation, across the State has remained steady throughout the year at about 2,400.

These latest figures show there were 2,413 adults with no dependents in emergency accommodation last month, 1,466 of them in Dublin. This compares with 2,390 homeless adults with no dependents in July, 1,464 of them in Dublin.

The figures for January were 2,441 nationally, 1,917 of them in Dublin. The cold-weather initiative, whereby additional emergency capacity is put in place in Dublin during the winter months, may account for the higher numbers in emergency beds in Dublin in January.

The fact that the numbers of adults in emergency accommodation remains steady, says the Simon Communities, indicates emergency beds are running at full capacity, while increasing numbers cannot access them and are sleeping rough.

“This population is far more hidden,” said a spokeswoman.

Mr Kelly reiterated his commitment to fund programmes to address homelessness and said both he and his colleague, Minister of State for Planning, Paudie Coffey would "continue to work with all the local authorities to deal with the challenging homeless situation".

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times