No five-year-old child should be eating his or her dinner from a piece of cardboard on the street the Tánaiste has told the Dáil.
Pressed about a picture of five-year-old homeless boy
The Government was criticised in the Dáil for wrapping the housing crisis up in statistics rather than focusing on the people behind the figures.
Mr Coveney said progress is being made but admitted that significant numbers of people continue to become homeless: "In 2018 more than 5,000 adults exited homelessness into homes, which is an increase of 8% on the previous year.
"In the first half of this year, 2,825 adults exited homelessness into homes, which is a 21% increase on the previous year. Next year, we expect that in excess 5,000 adults and families will exit homelessness into homes of their own. It is not just about homes, it is also about supports for many families who find themselves in vulnerable positions."
He added: "Ultimately, we need to ensure that Sam and little boys like him have security, safety and predictability in terms of their parents having a safe tenancy or a home of their own in which to look after their families. This is what we are working towards."
However, Sinn Féin deputy Dáil leader, Pearse Doherty, accused the Government of letting down our children: "The Tánaiste once again rhymed off statistics but he failed to mention that child homelessness continues to grow. Included in those statistics are children like Sam who are forced into these situations."
Mr Doherty said a €20m increase in funding for homelessness services announced as part of Budget 2020 is simply an acceptance that the crisis will worsen next year.
There are now more than 10,000 homeless people, including nearly 4,000 children, currently living in emergency hubs, hotels and B&Bs. Added to this are the almost 1,500 asylum seekers who have been put into emergency accommodation as the State has run out of space in direct provision centres.
David Stanton, Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration has confirmed that direct provision centres have reached capacity He said this is a result of a 53% rise in the number of people coming here in the first nine months of the year, which he described as "unexpected".
As of October 6, there were 7,547 people in accommodation by the International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS). Of these 6,094 people are being accommodated in the 38 direct provision centres located across 18 counties.
"As these centres are at full capacity, there are also a further 1,453 applicants residing in 35 emergency accommodation locations in hotels and guest house," Mr Stanton said in response to a parliamentary question tabled by Fianna Fáil TD, Fiona O'Loughlin.
"My Department is actively working on securing additional capacity, both in its existing centres and through sourcing new accommodation centres," he added.