As the number of people homeless hits a new record high of 11,754 Focus Ireland calls for Govt to extend eviction ban & outline a clear plan to boost housing supply
Charity calls for 2 actions that could help ease the deepening crisis with the stroke of a pen
Figures published by the Department of Housing today show the number of people officially homeless has hit yet another record high of 11,754. The new figures for January 2023 show an increase of 122 people in one month compared to the 11,632 homeless in December. The latest figures mean there were 2,604 more people homeless last month than the same time last year- a shocking 28% increase from 9150 people in January 2022 to 11,754 last month. Additionally, family homelessness is up 44% in just 12 months with a 34% rise in child homelessness during the same period.
Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said: “The introduction of the Winter eviction ban last October was essential. At the time all emergency homeless accommodation was full and over 1,000 households faced eviction by landlords wanting to sell up. Both those conditions still exist so it is essential that the ban be continued to avoid an additional surge in family homelessness. It is wrong to say, as some have claimed, that the winter eviction ban has failed, the situation would be far worse without it and will rapidly become worse if it is ended. What has failed is the Government’s attempts to use the breathing space to make a real difference.”
The charity stressed that while extending the ban is not a solution, it should provide breathing space for action. The Government clearly needs more time to take the measures needed, such as getting homeless families into the newly built social housing, introducing measures to stop the exodus of small-scale landlords from the market and most importantly, speeding up the delivery of social and affordable homes.
“The Government must stop lurching from one short-term crisis response to the next. We need a clear plan to tackle the problems which made the eviction ban necessary in the first place.”
He added: “We are also calling for two clear actions by the Government that could help to ease the deepening crisis. We need decisive action to keep small-scale landlords in the market and we need action to ensure that homeless families get a fairer share of the social housing that is becoming available. “
He explained: “The number of landlords leaving the market has caused many more households to become homeless over the past year. The Government needs to do more to ensure landlords stay in the market and as well as delivering on its commitment to build more affordable accommodation. Minister Darragh O’Brien has discussed a scheme which would allow landlords to build up significant tax relief on their income in exchange for a commitment to stay in the market. This commitment must be delivered as soon as possible to prevent more renters losing their homes when landlords sell up.”
He added: “We must make families who are homeless a greater priority for social housing which will really help to lift many more out of homelessness. There are now over 3,400 children without a home, and we must take every action possible to help end this awful human crisis.”
The January 2023 figures also report a total of 1,609 families with 3,431 children homeless.
Earlier this month Focus Ireland published a blog analysing the impact of the eviction ban at https://bit.ly/FIBlog0123 and this week, in partnership with Chartered Accountants Ireland, published proposals on tax reforms designed to keep landlords in the rental market at http://bit.ly/3INP5WK