Travellers on roadside or in overcrowded homes increased 66 per cent in 5 years
Department of Housing figures show 585 families living by the side of the road
Members of the Traveller community protesting over accommodation in 2014. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
The number of Traveller households living by the side of the road or in overcrowded conditions has increased by 66 per cent in five years, latest figures from the Department of Housing show.
While in 2013 there were 1,024 Traveller households in overcrowded, dangerous or inadequate housing this had increased to 1,700 in 2017. Families living in these conditions account for 15 per cent of the total Traveller population.
In 2013, some 361 households were in “unauthorised sites” – i.e. by the side of the road usually without a secure water or electricity supply, and 663 were in “shared housing” or “doubling up” as families could find no alternative accommodation.
By last year, there were 585 families living by the side of the road and 1,115 in “shared housing”.
These numbers have increased every year since 2013, despite a legal obligation on all local authorities since 1998 to provide tenancies to all qualifying Traveller households.
The figures are likely to increase pressure on Minister of State Damien English to penalise local authorities which continue to fail to provide social housing – whether in group housing schemes, halting sites or standard council housing – to Travellers.
A Housing Agency report, published last September, showed Traveller accommodation targets had not been met at any point since they were made mandatory on local authorities 19 years ago.
It found more than €55 million provided for Traveller housing remained unspent since 2000 and just 6,394 of the 9,390 – or 68 per cent – units of Traveller accommodation promised had been provided.
The 2017 annual Traveller count, published on Friday, shows there were 11,116 Traveller households – up from 10,364 in 2016 and 9,997 in 2015.
Dublin City Council has the highest number of Traveller families by the side of the road – with 102, up from 87 in 2015.
Of the 1,700 families in overcrowded, shared accommodation, 202 are in Waterford, 112 are in Kerry, 83 are in Limerick city and county and 60 are in Carlow.
Numbers in local authority halting sites have increased – from 935 in 2015, to 967 in 2016 and 982 last year - and those in standard council housing have increased from 3,229 in 2015 to 3,701 last year.
And while numbers in the private rented sector increased from 2,222 in 2016 to 2,387 last year, numbers remain lower than in 2013 when there were 2,717.
Some 795 families provided housing from their own resources last year, up from 706 in 2016 and from 546 in 2015.