Charities: New record homelessness number of 10,397 just scratches the surface

The record numbers of homelessness reported by the Department of Housing are just scratching the surface, according to charities in the sector, who have warned that the reality is far worse.

Charities: New record homelessness number of 10,397 just scratches the surface

The record numbers of homelessness reported by the Department of Housing are just scratching the surface, according to charities in the sector, who have warned that the reality is far worse.

In its latest report, the Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government reported that 10,397 people were in emergency accommodation in Ireland in September. This included 6,524 adults and 3,873 children.

Since 2016, when the Government introduced its Rebuilding Ireland plan to tackle homelessness and increase housing supply, the number of people in emergency accommodation in the south-west has increased by 167.5%. In the north-east, it is up 147% and in Dublin, it has increased by 52%.

Wayne Stanley, national spokesperson for the Simon Communities, said the reality is far worse than the figures indicate. The Department's figures have been criticised by the European Union for excluding rough sleepers, people in long-term supported accommodation and families in domestic violence refuges.

"It’s important to remember that while indicative of the crisis, these numbers do not truly capture its full scale," Mr Stanley said.

There are particular concerns about the increasing number of children in emergency accommodation and the impact this is having. They now account for 37% of all people in emergency accommodation.

Suzanne Connolly, CEO, Barnardos, said; "We have young children coming to our Early Years Services with marked delays in reaching their physical milestones such as crawling, walking and climbing because they don’t have the indoor or outdoor space to grow, play and explore safely.

"Parents are often made feel they have to keep their child quiet in a buggy due to the lack of space. We have also observed speech and language delays caused by having to eat unsuitable and unhealthy foods."

Ms Connolly said that there are further issues for school-going children in attending classes when placed in accommodation far from their schools, while hotels and family hubs do not provide appropriate space for studying or completing homework.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said that the issue will continue to be a problem until housing supply can be increased, and that the situation would be a lot worse if the Government did not have a plan to tackle the collapse of the housing sector.

Anthony Flynn, CEO of Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) said that the Minister's position is "untenable".

"He needs to leave his post as the relentless persistence in expecting the private markets to resolve the homeless crisis have clearly failed," he said.

"We have heard nothing but spin from the Minister and his department over the last 2 years and enough is enough. Minister Murphy must leave his post with immediate effect as his policies are clearly failing the people he is supposed to serve."

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