3,480 children will spend Christmas homeless in emergency accommodation
25th November 2022
Figures published by the Department of Housing today show the number of people officially homeless has hit another record of 11,397. That is an increase of 422 people in only one month compared to the 10,975 homeless in September.
The latest figures mean there has now been a shocking 29% rise of the number of people homeless in the last year – from 8,830 people in Oct 2021 to 11,397 last month.
Homelessness has now increased every month this year, with each of the last four months setting a shameful record.
Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said: “In the face of these shameful figures, it is important to remind ourselves that homelessness is not inevitable. It is not a natural phenomenon, it is the result of bad policies and can be ended, over time, with better policies delivered with urgency. However, the failure of successive governments has led to a crisis where nearly 3,500 children will spend Christmas in emergency accommodation. Too many of these children were born into homelessness this year and will spend their first ever Christmas in this world as homeless. Words cannot properly express how morally wrong it is that this is happening.”
Mr. Dennigan added: “While the ‘no fault eviction policy’ which came in effect this month should lead to an easing off in future homeless figures, it only provides a breathing space which must be used to address the fact that nowhere near enough new homes are being built. If supply is not ramped up in the months ahead, the numbers homeless will shoot up once again once the eviction ban ends next April. It is vital that every action possible is taken before then to help ease this crisis.”
Focus Ireland also called for the limited housing that is becoming available to be better targeted to provide homes for homeless and vulnerable households. “In 2016, when we built or acquired 5,700 new social homes, this provided homes for 1,400 households moving out of homelessness. Last year, when we were able to deliver over 9,000 new social homes – the same number of homeless households benefited – even though there were more homeless people. The small but welcome growth in housing supply will not trickle down to the most vulnerable without Government action. We need to ensure – just as we did during the Covid crisis – that the most vulnerable are helped to the front of the queue, and not left to the last.
The charity has called for the Government to progress a range of policy measures during the Winter Emergency Period that addresses the causes of homelessness, including:
- The Department should engage with every small landlord who has issued an eviction notice because they intend to leave the market, so that we can understand the reasons for their decisions and whether it can be reversed, or the property purchases with the tenant in place.
- More effective measures to bring vacant and derelict homes back into use, including penalties for those who leave property vacant for no good reason.
Focus Ireland also warned that the latest reports from Daft and the RTB (Residential Tenancy Board) this week highlights how critical it is that action is taken now to stabilize the rental sector. The most vulnerable cannot afford these record and rising rents, and the Government must prevent more families and individuals from becoming homeless.
Mr. Dennigan added that the official figures do not capture the full extent of the numbers homeless. He explained: “Despite new emergency homeless accommodation coming on stream in the last few weeks, there is still many “hidden homeless” people—including couch surfers, families who “double up” with friends or family, and even people who sleep in tents and cars—who not included in the official statistics, which means that monthly statistics still to capture the scale of human misery created by our housing and homelessness crisis.”
The October figures also report 1,601 families with 3,480 children now homeless. Child homelessness has now increased 38% compared with October 2021.
Media Contact – Roughan Mac Namara – Head of Media Communications – 086 8515 117