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Homeless charities demand action in the Budget as latest figures show 8,700 in emergency accommodation

The figures dropped slightly last month compared to July.

Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien
Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

CHARITIES HAVE URGED the government to take action in next month’s Budget as the latest figures showed that just over 8,700 people were homeless in Ireland in August.

The 8,702 people in emergency accommodation last month was a slight decrease on the 8,728 people homeless in July. 

There were an extra five adults – 6,082 people – homeless last month  but there were 31 less children – 2,620 children – in emergency accommodation.

The small fall in numbers this month follows a trend which began in March with a drop in the number of homeless people in Ireland. 

However, charities have warned that these gains will be reversed after the government lifted the moratorium on evictions and rent freezes.

These organisations operating in the sector are looking to Budget 2021 – set to be unveiled in October – to offer greater supports to help address the problem.

Peter McVerry Trust CEO Pat Doyle said: “As the Minister [Darragh O'Brien] has already pointed out, the big challenge is securing homes for single people and Budget 2021, which will be published in a couple of weeks’ time, needs to ensure that it promotes and enables greater delivery of one-bed homes. This could include incentivising the delivery of over-the-shop apartment schemes by reducing the rate of VAT on works of refurbishing and re-using vacant town centre spaces.”

We can see from the monthly figures that the number of adults in homelessness who are single remains stubbornly high. This group is hugely reliant on the delivery of more one-bedroom home.

Dublin Simon Community, meanwhile, issued a warning that the figures indicate that the number of single people homeless in Dublin could reach 3,000 by Christmas.

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Its CEO Sam McGuinness said: “In four years, we have seen the number of single people in emergency accommodation increase by 100% while the number of housing solutions for these people has failed time and again to measure up, or dried up completely. It is nearly impossible for a single adult to afford the rent charged in Dublin for a one or two bedroom apartment.

Covid-19 has already decimated our social housing target for the year. With budget day fast approaching, we must create dedicated targets and funding for one- and two-bedroom units before our vulnerable singles mark another six months in crowded emergency accommodation facilities.

Inner City Helping Homeless, meanwhile, welcomed the “minor reductions” but added they aren’t something to be “getting too excited about”. 

Its CEO Anthony Flynn said: “We are seeing an increase in the number of homeless adults and the overall Dublin figure is back on the rise. We saw considerable reductions in figures whilst the eviction ban was in place and that trended, as soon as it was lifted, we see increases.”

Social Democrats housing spokesperson Cian O’Callaghan said: “I’m calling on the Minister for Housing to immediately bring forward legislation that would permanently eliminate most grounds for eviction to bring us into line with most other European countries.

Organisations working with homeless people have reported a significant rise of people sleeping rough who are faced with increasing obstacles when accessing emergency accommodation. We need a rough sleeper count done as soon as possible.

About the author:

Sean Murray

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