Surge in the number of homeless children in Dublin

Focus Ireland’s head of advocacy says city’s child homelessness figures are ‘shocking’

July saw the biggest monthly increase in the number of homeless children in Dublin since January 2016, and second largest rise since the homelessness crisis began, figures to be published on Friday show.

The data, from the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, also reveals that of the 215 families that Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said in May would be out of commercial hotels and in "family hubs" by the end of the summer, just 48 have made the move.

Despite his commitment that the majority of families would be out of hotels by the autumn, numbers have increased from 647 in May to 753 last month.

July was also to be the month no homeless family would be in a commercial hotel under a target set by Mr Murphy's predecessor Simon Coveney.

The number of homeless children in all forms of emergency accommodation in Dublin during the week July 24th-30th was 2,423 in 1,178 families.

This compares to 2,270 children in 1,115 families in the week of June 19th to 25th, an increase of 153 children.

This is the largest monthly increase in homeless children in the capital since January 2016, when there was a post-Christmas increase from 1,409 children in December 2015, to 1,570 the following month.

Homelessness crisis

July’s increase is the second largest since the housing and homelessness crisis began in early 2014.

Since June 2014 the number of homeless children in Dublin has increased by 327 per cent from 567.

Of July’s record total, 1,476 children, or 60 per cent, were in lone-parent households, with 947 in couple-headed households.

Speaking in May, newly-appointed Mr Murphy said of the 647 families then in hotels, one-third would be relocated to family hubs, one-third to the private rented sector and one-third to social housing.

While the number in hotels have increased, just 23 families have been moved to a "family hub" operated by Crosscare and 25 to one run by the Respond housing body. These include 60 children.

Mike Allen, head of advocacy with Focus Ireland, described the figures as "shocking" .

He said 99 families had presented as newly homeless in Dublin in July, a record high for the past 18 months. “The reduced inflow we had been seeing at the end of 2016 and earlier this year has gone entirely and we are back to rising inflow figures.”

Utterly depressing

Sinn Féin spokesman on housing Eoin Ó Broin said the figures were “utterly depressing but unfortunately not a surprise”.

“Not only is the Government not getting to grips with the family homelessness crisis, but their actions and inactions are making things worse. There is no action being taken to stop the flow of family’s into homelessness.

“There is not enough purchasing of turn-key properties available today to house homeless families. Even the flagship ‘hub’ project is moving at snail’s pace. Government must enact emergency legislation to restrict the grounds for landlords issuing vacant possession notices to quit, and they must buy more houses to give these families the homes they so desperately need.”

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times