Homelessness speeds past 10,000 mark and back to pre-pandemic levels

Homelessness speeds past 10,000 mark and back to pre-pandemic levels

The number of homeless people soared above 10,000 in April, a return to pre-pandemic levels, with 500 more children in emergency accommodation than there were last December and with the highest number of young people in homelessness on record.

The latest report on homelessness published by the Department of Housing showed 10,049 people in emergency accommodation, the first time the monthly total has surpassed 10,000 since February 2020.

The number included 1,308 families — up 5.6% compared with the number in March — and 7,105 adults, and another trend is the rise in the number of children in emergency accommodation — up almost 500 between December and April, when 2,944 were homeless

Young people

In addition, 1,246 young people aged 18-24 were in emergency accommodation in April, the highest such number on record and up 70% when compared to the figure in April 2021, when 733 in that age category were homeless.

Wayne Stanley, head of policy and communication at the Simon Communities of Ireland, said while some measures already under way were welcome, more aggressive use of vacant housing stock was now required.

More aggressive use of vacant housing stock is needed to tackle homelessness.
More aggressive use of vacant housing stock is needed to tackle homelessness.

"While nothing in housing is straight forward, the more than 90,000 vacant homes in the State hold real potential in getting ahead of the this crisis," he said. 

The time has come for a significant, sustained and well-funded programme that will bring vacant properties back into use for those experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

David Carroll, chief executive of Depaul, said he was "dismayed but not surprised" at the latest figures, saying too many elements of the current system were not working amid spiralling rents and falling supply.

"An immediate analysis by the Housing Commission of the private rental sector should occur in order to arrive at long term recommendations for reforms of the sector," he said, adding that current Housing Assistance Payments levels were also insufficient.

"The numbers we’re seeing today sadly don’t represent the full scale of housing needs in Ireland. We know that there are currently 2,700 individuals in Direct Provision who have status but have nowhere to go."

'Appalling figures'

Focus Ireland CEO, Pat Dennigan, said the figures were "appalling" and that practical measures were needed, such as effective regulation to stop rented homes being turned into short-term holiday lets and encouraging landlords to stay in the market and tackling the problems with Hap.

Other measures to tackle inflation in the construction sector and rising interest rates and combatting land-hoarding, vacancy and dereliction.

"“When we first crossed the 10,000 threshold, the then Government made a number of similar commitments," he said. "It is striking to see that the problems they promised to solve then are exactly the same ones we are still talking about today."

The monthly report shows that just under two-thirds of those who are homeless are Irish, and that 70% are in Dublin.

The area with the second highest percentage of people in emergency accommodation is the South West, led by Cork city and county where 464 people were homeless in April.

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