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Concern at increase in number of homeless families last month

Homeless campaigners have called for plans that address the particular challenges facing lone parents.

HOMELESS CHARITY FOCUS Ireland has expressed concern that the number of families that are homeless rose last month as the total level of homelessness broke through the 8,000 threshold again.

According to the latest figures from the Department of Housing, the number of people who were homeless nationwide in June is 8,014.

While the overall homeless figure is lower than this time last year (8,699), the number of single adults who are homeless (4,497 ) is up 3% on last year and both the overall and family figures have risen since May.

Last month there were 932 families who were homeless, up four from May. There were 14 additional homeless families in Dublin.

Focus Ireland today called on the government to include a specific long-term plan to address family homelessness and the particular challenges facing lone parents.

“The increase in family homelessness in June is a stark reminder of how precarious the progress in tackling homelessness really is,” director of advocacy Mike Allen said.

“High rents are continuing to put families under pressure while they are also juggling the high cost of childcare during a global pandemic. Our services across the country show that many households are experiencing increased financial stress as we reopen the economy, which is leading to families being on the verge of homelessness.”

He said there has been “great progress” over the last year and a half in reducing overall figures but this was a result of an immediate response to the pandemic rather than a long-term plan.

“We have to remember that, even with the recent progress, the number of families homeless remains four times the level it was in 2014, when the then Minister for Housing declared it an ‘emergency crisis’,” he added.

“The government has decided not to continue many of the of the policies which cut family homelessness – such as greater protections against evictions – and the underlying causes of the problem has not been addressed, and must be in the government’s Housing for All strategy.”

The increases in homelessness fell most heavily on Dublin with an increase of 15 adults (now a total of 4,069) and 14 additional homeless families, bringing the total to 702 in the capital. Outside the capital there are 412 homeless adults in Cork, 218 in Limerick and 62 in Waterford.

According to the department’s quarterly report, also published today, 1,371 adults and their dependants exited from emergency accommodation or were prevented from entering into emergency accommodation in the second quarter of 2021. All these exits were to homes with tenancies. 

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The report also shows that in the second quarter of 2021, 51% of families were prevented from having to enter emergency accommodation by way of a tenancy having been created.

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien said that while the year-on-year reduction in overall figures is welcome, the numbers are “still far too high”. 

“The reports published today are showing the progress that is being made but there is certainly much more work to be done,” he said.

“While the number of people homeless has been decreasing recently, the numbers are still too high.  We are focused on addressing homelessness, and will take every action we can to continue on the path of taking firm action to prevent entries into homelessness in the first instance and to help those that are homeless to exit to secure and sustained homes.”

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