Focus Ireland calls for increased social housing stock to be used to ease growing crisis as homeless figures rise to a record 13,531

Charity said Govt must direct Local Authorities to ensure homeless households get a fairer share of housing coming on stream

The new figures – issued by the Department of Housing today – report a distressing record total of 13,531 people officially homeless in January 2024.

This is an increase of 213 from the previous month and an alarming 15% higher compared to January 2023. This month’s increase reverses the welcome fall in homelessness reported in December and seems to return to the upward trend seen over the last two years.

There are now 1,940 families in emergency accommodation, 24 more than in December 2023. The annual family difference is now 21% higher compared with January 2023.

Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said that that these latest figures are a serious setback after the welcome fall in family homelessness before Christmas. Not only are there 4,027 children homeless but more of them were also homeless for longer, increasing the harm that homelessness can cause.

Mr. Dennigan emphasized, “Homelessness causes great suffering for all those affected, with children bearing the brunt of its harm. It is truly heartbreaking that x children were homeless in January, an appalling situation which, without the right support, can have a lifelong impact. As a society, we must move beyond mere expressions of disappointment at the persistently record-breaking homelessness figures each month. It is time to take meaningful actions that will cause change, such as ensuring a fairer allocation of social housing for families who are homeless.”

Despite the record figures Mr Dennigan believes there are signs of progress in social housing provision, and this must now be better used to help ease the deepening homelessness crisis.

“Local authorities and AHBs built more social homes last year than at any time in the last 50 years which presents an enormous opportunity to tackle homelessness. This increase should be leveraged to genuinely assist the most vulnerable among us and make substantial strides in reducing the number of families and individuals caught in the grip of homelessness. This year could be a turning point in the crisis if the right action is taken. Focus Ireland remains convinced that the use of social housing to address the issue of homelessness can be a vital approach in reducing the suffering of families.”

He added: “Focus Ireland noted that analysis of the figures indicates that some of December fall in homeless was due to families returning briefly to stay with wider family and relatives for Christmas, but these overcrowded arrangements are not sustainable. Some of the reduction was also due to the effectiveness of an effort to ensure that families experiencing long-term homelessness received a fairer share of accessible social housing. Without that the homeless figures would be even higher. We strongly welcome that shift but it must be driven forward and expanded, which will require leadership from Government and local authorities.”

He further remarked, “Ireland is a wealthy nation and the homeless crisis should not be seen as a reality we must accept. It is crucial to always bear in mind that homelessness is not an inevitable outcome and can be prevented – and ended – through the implementation of appropriate policies.”


Editor notes

Annual increases (Jan 2024 vs Jan 2023):

  • Annual Total Homelessness Difference: Homelessness overall is 15% higher compared with Jan 23
  • Families Annual Difference: 21% higher compared with Jan 23
  • Children Annual Difference is 17% higher compared with Jan 23
  • Adults Annual Difference is 14% higher compared with Jan 23


+ Click to view more