Homeless figures reach record high of almost 10,000 in January

Homeless figures reach record high of almost 10,000 in January

A record number of 9,987 people were homeless in January, including 3,624 children.

The latest figures were described as "very disappointing" and not acceptable by Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, in a week in which the government's performance in this area over the past year was condemned by children's rights groups.

The January figures show an increase of 234 people nationally living in emergency accommodation in January, with the overall figure including 1,614 families.

Minister Murphy said the latter figure was the lowest number of families in emergency accommodation in a year, but there was no avoiding the overall picture, with the January tally exceeding the previous record monthly high of 9,968 registered last November.

"It is very disappointing and we remain in a very difficult situation where homelessness is heavily impacting on the lives of families and individuals," the Minister said.

There was a decrease of people in emergency accommodation in December, which we understood at the time to be partly due to seasonal reasons, and so an increase in January was anticipated but that doesn’t mean it is acceptable."

He said 27,000 households had their housing needs met under the Rebuilding Ireland programme last year, with an 8,000 boost to local authority social housing stock.

The Minister said another 10,000 homes will be added to that total in 2019.

Just this week the annual Children's Rights Alliance Report Card gave the government an F grade for its performance on housing over the past year.

In the report the Alliance's CEO Tanya Ward repeated calls for a housing emergency to be declared.

Ms Ward also noted that children became the largest group within the country's homeless population last year.

Two-thirds of all people in emergency accommodation are in Dublin, including 2,706 children.

Of the 514 homeless people in counties Cork and Kerry, 283 were children.

In total, there were 394 people in emergency accommodation in Cork, 312 in Galway, and 274 in Limerick, and Leitrim was the only county in the country to have no-one in emergency accommodation in January.

Merchant's Quay Ireland, which caters for homeless people every night in its night cafe, said the situation was now "an ongoing national trauma", claiming that if rough sleepers were included it would bring the total homeless population to 10,143.

Focus Ireland DEC Pat Dennigan said there was "a very real danger of the short term fix of homeless hubs becoming a long-term situation" and that 40% of homeless families in Dublin are now in emergency accommodations for over a year.

He said the government was shying away from tackling the deeper issues affecting homelessness and that it needed to urgently rethink its approach.

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