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Minister for Housing accepts 'need to do more' as latest figures show record levels of homelessness

10,378 people were recorded in emergency accommodation in April.

A woman walks past a homeless tent iunder a bridge in Dublin earlier this year.
A woman walks past a homeless tent iunder a bridge in Dublin earlier this year.
Image: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

Updated May 29th 2019, 1:44 PM

THE MINISTER FOR Housing has accepted that the government “needs to do more” as new figures showed a record number of people were homeless in Ireland during April.

Figures published by the Department of Housing this morning show that there were 6,584 adults and 3,794 children – 10,378 people – recorded in state-funded emergency accommodation last month.

While the number of children in emergency accommodation fell by 27 when compared with the previous month, the overall number of people increased by 73 over the same period.

Commenting on the figures, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said that family homelessness continued to be a challenge, particularly in the Dublin area.

“So far this year we have exited more than 320 families out of emergency accommodation into a home, which is some progress, but clearly, we need to do a lot more,” he said.

“My department is working closely with the local authorities to deliver homes for every family in emergency accommodation.”

Housing figures 1 Figures show a breakdown of people in emergency accommodation during April Source: Department of Housing

As the figures were published, Murphy was appearing before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Housing, where he was providing updates on short-term letting regulations and an update on Rebuilding Ireland.

Commenting on the figures, Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin said that the government was failing those who needed a roof over their heads.

“We need to see radical change in policy direction,” he said. “Unfortunately, I do not believe that this Minister or this government has any real interest in changing course.”

Chairperson of the Simon Communities of Ireland, Dermot Kavanagh, said the figures showed that the pace of construction of social and affordable homes needed to be accelerated.

“We must ensure that people and families do not remain trapped in emergency accommodation long term,” he said.

“As well as those included in these numbers, there are also many thousands more living with housing insecurity, living with daily uncertainty not knowing of they will have a home next week or next month.

“This is no way for people and families to live.”

Murphy was the subject of two housing protests at the RDS Arena over the weekend, as he attended the local and European election count centre in Dublin.

Criticism was directed at Murphy from housing activists who were protesting against the government’s record on housing, and gardaí and security staff intervened in the protest to shield him from protesters during the second protest.

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