Outcry following the publication of latest figures show 8,000 homeless

Update 8.33pm: Nearly 3,000 children are homeless in Ireland.

New figures from the Department of Housing show that 8,000 people were without a home in July.

The new statistics come on the eve of the Emergency Housing Summit.

Senator Kevin Humphreys said that it's not acceptable that thousands of possible homes in our capital city are used for tourists over families.

"It has been estimated than anywhere between 2,500 and 6,000 apartments and houses in Dublin are now marketed as full time, short term lets through platforms like AirBnB," he said.

He also pointed out that there are tens of thousands of vacant properties and we still have no concrete measures or strategy from the Government to address this. He urged that a vacant homes tax would drive owners who leave properties empty for long periods to action and get these homes back into use.

"Dozens of proposals have been put forward to bring these empty houses back into use. As an immediate measure, every County and City Council should appoint vacant homes officers to inspect properties and assess why these vacant properties are being left vacant and to proactively work to have them occupied again," he added.

The CEO of Peter McVerry Trust Pat Doyle says tomorrow's meeting is a welcome move.

He says more needs to be done to stop people becoming homeless.

"We need to do more to stop the tide of people coming in but tomorrow is an opportunity for the Minister to meet with all the CEOs of the local authories, they have a mandate and they have the experience," said Mr Doyle.

In light of recent deaths of several homeless people, Saoradh Community support have called a march this Saturday meeting at Apollo House 2pm.

They will be marching to Leinster House where they "will have a rally to demand real action to be taken to tackle the homeless crisis."

Earlier;Barnardos has said it is "appalled" by the numbers of children registered as homeless.

Head of Advocacy for Barnados June Tinsley described the figures as "unacceptable and tragically preventable".

"Child homelessness has increased by 296% in the last three years. We see first-hand the devastating and long-term impact that being homeless has on a child’s health and development, not to mention their ability to learn," she said.

"The Government must take more immediate and decisive action; they must do more to stem the flow of families becoming homeless. Current policies are failing and childhoods are being destroyed," Ms Tinsley added.

Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) claim the figure of 8,160 homeless adults does not reflect the real number of homeless people in Ireland.

ICHH, which puts the figure at nearly 10,000, said the official number does not include hidden homeless people who are sleeping rough or staying with friends or family

Describing Minister Simon Coveney's previous July 1 deadline to remove families from hotel and B&B accommodation as a "broken promise", ICHH said the Government was "deluded".

"The Taoiseach insinuated that "other issues" were responsible for some of the deaths and that it wasn't down to their lack of a home. To try and deflect the reasons for the deaths away from the homeless crisis shows how deluded the government are when it comes to homelessness," said ICHH CEO Anthony Flynn

Mr Flynn asked the Taoiseach to call a state of emergency and recall the Dáil as soon as possible.

"People within homeless services can begin to feel hopeless, like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. This lands squarely at the door of the Taoiseach and Minister for Housing," he said.

"They have been warned for years about how bad things were getting and how more social housing was needed immediately as well as wrap around support for those experiencing homeless yet they chose to ignore the warnings and rely on the private rental market.

"Five funerals within a week show how badly this has failed." Mr Flynn added.

Earlier: Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy is facing criticism ahead of tomorrow's Emergency Housing Summit at Custom House in Dublin.

The summit follows news that four homeless people have died in the past week.

A homeless man in his 20s died while staying in emergency accommodation on Tuesday night in Kilmainham, Dublin.

Last Wednesday a Tallaght woman in her 20s took her own life while staying in accommodation in Leixlip, while two rough sleepers died in Dublin and Cork.

Sinn Féin is planning to protest outside the summit because councillors have not been invited to take part.

Dublin City Councillor for Sinn Féin Daithí Doolan described the summit as "ridiculous".

Councillor Daithí Doolan

"We have a ridiculous scenario tomorrow where Minister Murphy is meeting sitting county managers from right across the 26 counties," he said.

"In all fairness with all due respect, talking to some of those managers about the housing crisis would be talking to the Swiss government about coastal erosion. It'll be irrelevant - it's not on their agenda," he added.

Fianna Fáil Housing Spokesperson Barry Cowen TD has criticised Minister Murphy and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe as "completely paralysed" on the issue.

"Paschal Donohoe and his colleagues are sitting atop the biggest housing crisis in generations, causing misery for thousands of families across the country," he said.

"Eoghan Murphy is continuing the practice of Simon Coveney and the Labour Party's Alan Kelly before him, where endless PR initiatives and 'action plans' are mistaken for genuine activity or progress," he added.

Data from the Housing Department 8,160 people, including almost 3,000 children, were homeless in July of this year.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe

"We are long past the time when the Government should spell out their plans and take action. Their premature and unresearched response to our proposals on VAT reform only re-emphasise their complete absence of ideas on this issue," Deputy Cowen said.

The Simon Communities are calling for a vacant site levy, the trebling of spending on social housing and index-linked rents in their action plan ahead of the summit.

Spokesperson Niamh Randall says €1bn is needed to kick-start a new social housing programme.

Ms Randall said: "The whole Rebuilding Ireland strategy is under review and part of our concern would be that the strategy is predicated on the private sector to deliver a huge amount of social housing."

In a pre-Budget submission, the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) has said work most continue "as a matter of priority" to ensure more secure, permanent housing for homeless families.

"The ISPCC, over the past number of years has expressed grave concerns regarding the placing of homeless children and families in unsuitable, non-standardised, emergency accommodation for long periods of time.

"The rate of homelessness in Ireland is not showing signs of slowing; in June 2017 2,895 children were homeless in Ireland," the submission reads.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy

Ahead of the summit, ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, has expressed concern over the lack of housing options for older people throughout Ireland.

"87% of all older people in ALONE housing come from homeless services. There has been an 11.4 % growth in the number of people over 60 on the housing waiting list, this increases to 18.5 % in Dublin," said ALONE CEO Sean Moynihan.

Mr Moynihan said the government needs to focus their energy on supplying housing choices for older people throughout the country.

"In order to make this happen, local authorities need to be supported with funding and staffing resources as they are the only bodies that can deliver on the scale that is required," he added.


Related Articles

Update: Two rough sleepers died last night because Govt 'had no plan for homeless during Ophelia' - charity

Simon Coveney promises that homelessness will be prioritised

More in this Section

UK government to help pay travel expenses for NI women travelling to England for abortion

First ever live broadcast of court proceedings in Ireland tomorrow

Environmental group launches court challenge to Government's National Mitigation Plan

Clients have no case to answer, lawyers for Tusla and Garda officers tell Charleton tribunal


Today's Stories

Two die in Cork and Wicklow while working to repair storm damage

Banks facing fines for tracker mortgage scandal

Judge reveals €17,000 overcharging ‘to give heart to others’

Extra bill for HSE as delay hits €33m hospital system

Lifestyle

A helicopter put a piano on the 150-foot roof of Blarney Castle and other stories from the Cork Jazz Festival archives

Jazz Memories: Famous faces share their favourite moments

Live music review: The Horrors - Icy genius in a thrillingly intimate setting

Choosing a sheltered spot for Maples is vital

More From The Irish Examiner