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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C
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Charities express dismay as over 9,000 people in emergency accommodation in January

Official homeless figures for January indicate that there are now 6,587 adults and 2,563 children accessing emergency accommodation.

THERE WERE OVER 9,000 people in emergency accommodation in January, with homeless charities “dismayed” at the rise in figures over the last eight months.

Figures released by the Department of Housing in its monthly homelessness report, show that there were 6,587 adults accessing emergency accommodation in the last week of the month.

The Department also shows that there were 2,563 children homeless during the last week of January.

This leads to a total of 9,150 people in emergency accommodation at the end of last month.

Focus Ireland said it was deeply concerned as the homelessness crisis is “deepening again and undoing the considerable progress made during the pandemic when the eviction ban – and other measures – helped work to cut the numbers homeless by 2,000.”

Based on January’s figures, the charity estimates that at least one family became homeless every day in the last 6 months while many more on the brink of homelessness due to the unstable housing sector.

Calling for a review of the housing assistance payments (HAP) rates to be done “as quickly as possible”, Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said: “Once homeless it is proving near impossible for many families to regain a home in the private rented sector so too many become trapped in homelessness.”

“We strongly advise any family or individual struggling to pay the rent to seek help from the likes of Focus Ireland or other local advice and information services in their area. This can help to stop a housing problem from becoming a full-blown crisis which ends in them becoming homeless.”

CEO of Dublin Simon Community Sam McGuinness said the charity was dismayed at the figures that have been “increasing at an alarming rate, undoing much of the progress made across the sector by all partners during the pandemic”.

“Already in the midst of a housing crisis, the cost-of-living crisis is now dominating referrals to our prevention teams. There are elderly people wearing coats indoors to save on heating and young families attending soup kitchens to save on food,” said McGuinness.

“Rents are also increasing, causing major distress and bewilderment to people who have received valid notices of termination and cannot find anywhere to live within their budgets. When you’re fighting three crises at once – health, housing and cost of living, the term crisis begins to lose all meaning.”

Head of Policy and Communication at the Simon Communities of Ireland Wayne Stanley said the figures released today are a “stark reminder of the scale of the challenge we face to address homelessness in Ireland” but they do not truly capture the full scale of the crisis.

“The numbers do not capture those in domestic violence shelters, those sleeping rough or those couch surfing. In particular, we have seen increasing numbers forced to sleep rough in areas of rural Ireland.”

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin said the policies of Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien are directly responsible for the month-on-month rise in figures.

“The lifting of the ban on evictions, the failure to introduce a ban on rent increases, the lack of real social housing delivery and the ban on councils buying properties with HAP and RAS tenants in them have all played a part,” said O’Broin.

“Minister Darragh O’Brien is burying his head in the sand in terms of addressing the sheer volume of families who are receiving notices to quit due to their landlord selling up.”

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