New Figures Show Record Number Now Homeless In Ireland

New Government figures on homelessness show a new record high with 7,167 homeless adults and children in January compared to 7,148 in December – and a rise of a quarter since this time last year (5,715).

Although there was a welcome small decline of 33 families who were homelessness nationwide in January, the total number of homeless families is still up by a third on this time last year (from 884 to 1,172).

Focus Ireland pointed out that behind the figures there are huge numbers of families still losing their homes, with the charity’s own new monthly figures for Dublin showing that 87 families with 151 children became homeless in January.

“This means that shockingly a child became homeless every 5 hours in Dublin during the month of January,” said Mike Allen, Director of Advocacy at Focus Ireland.  He added: “In recent years we have seen a pattern of a fall in the number of families becoming homeless in December followed by sudden increase in January. This year there is a different pattern with no real fall in December, and a small fall in January.

Behind this pattern we see continued high numbers entering homelessness in Dublin and even higher numbers being supported to escape homelessness and find new homes.

He added: “The success of Focus Ireland staff, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive and other agencies in supporting families into new homes continues to be undermined by the failure to tackle the root cause of the problem and prevent new families being made homeless in droves.”

From the work that Focus Ireland do supporting the families that become homeless we know that the single largest cause of homelessness is now property being taken out of the rental market, either by the landlord selling up, or using the property for their own family. Legislation to stop evictions of tenants in buy-to-let properties that are being sold was voted down by the Government (with Fianna Fail abstention) last year. We believe that if that legislation had been passed as many as 25 of the families who became homeless in January would still have a home.”

The Government’s strategy to tackle the housing and homelessness crisis, Rebuilding Ireland, contains only a few lines about family homelessness. These mostly involve moving families from hotels to new forms of emergency accommodation. No targets are set for tackling the underlying problem and no timeframes are set for how long families are to be allowed to suffer homelessness.”

“Since the Government launched the strategy in June last year, we have called for a specific sub-strategy on family homelessness, which would take account of how recent this problem is in Ireland and its potentially devastating effects on the children involved. We are renewing this call now for the Minister to set out a clear set of actions and objectives which he is going to take over the next three years to prevent family homelessness and provide support and new homes to those who are already experiencing it.

Homelessness among adults not accompanied by children rose by 163 nationally, with three-quarters of that rise coming in Dublin.

Mr. Allen said:” We had massive public interest and compassion about homelessness in the run up to Christmas, and a lot of concentration on the number of children that had to spend homelessness in a hotel room or B&B. Here we see the problem continuing with a total of 151 children finding themselves losing their homes in the weeks after Christmas. We need to maintain the huge public recognition that what is happening to these families is wrong, and the solutions that the Government have put in place are too piecemeal and too slow.”

Editors Notes:  The latest homeless figures are always available on our website here

Media Contact Roughan MacNamara  086 85 15 117  or Michelle Moran 086 468 0442

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