Focus Ireland warns homeless figures will continue to rise as latest stats show 10,325 people are without a home
The most vulnerable must not pay the price of the cost-of-living crisis through rising homelessness and poverty.
Figures published by the Department of Housing today show the number of people who are officially homeless has risen to 10,325, with a record of 5,054 single people without a home. There were 276 more homeless in May when compared with 10,049 in April and 2,334 more than a year ago, a 29% increase. In addition, child homelessness has also increased by an alarming 41% since this time last year (Children homeless in May 2022- 3,028 Children homeless in May 2021- 2,148).
Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said: “As well as facing the housing and homeless crisis we are now facing one of the worst periods of inflation in living memory. In addition to rocketing rents vulnerable people nationwide are struggling to pay their petrol energy bills and many families can barely put food on their table. If urgent action is not taken by the government, we will undoubtedly see these figures rise in the coming months. It is terrible to see that the progress made through such challenging work during the pandemic has so quickly been lost, and we are back to rising numbers of adults and children experiencing homelessness. In the long term, we need a greater supply of affordable housing, especially for families and single people who are the most vulnerable, with many on the brink of homelessness. The government must also deliver on measures to end land-hoarding, vacancy, and dereliction.
Focus Ireland welcomed Minister Darragh O’Brien’s recent changes to HAP (Housing Assistance Payments), but the charity maintains they do not go far enough and more needs to be done to curb the rising numbers becoming homeless.
Mr. Dennigan added: “The ‘discretionary’ increase from 20% to 35% will help, but the measure needs to go further, and it only applies to Dublin. We hope these welcome but limited initial announcements by Minister O’Brien are only part of what he plans to do and there will be further announcements as the legislation is published.”
The May figures report a total of 1,366 families homeless compared – a significant increase of 58 families when compared to the previous month.
Note to Editors on HAP
HAP is a rent subsidy scheme operated by the Department of Housing via local authorities. It has largely replaced the Rent Supplement Scheme. HAP households pay the local authority a differential rent similar to all social housing tenants, but in many instances, they must also pay a top-up to the landlord. This is overwhelming especially for vulnerable families on the brink, having to already deal with the cost-of-living crisis.
To further empathise HAP’s importance, a Department of Housing progress report (December 2021) showed the payment was the main exit from homelessness in 2021, with an average of 69% of homeless exits each quarter occurring due to HAP tenancies in the private market.
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