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Homeless figures dip but charity warns of 'alarming rise' in homeless single people

Housing minister Darragh O’Brien said homelessness remains “unacceptably high”.

THE NUMBER OF homeless people in the state fell by more than 3% last month but the Simon Community is warning that the reduction is masking a spike in the number of single people entering homelessness.

Statistics released by the Department of Housing today show that there were 8,200 people, including dependents, homeless in December 2020. The figure represents a fall from 8,484 the previous month. 

A total of 4,447 of the homeless people were single adults who are not part of a family unit. This number represents more than 75% of homeless adults and is an 8.6% increase on pre-Covid-19 pandemic levels in December 2019.

The stats show that 970 families were in emergency accommodation, a 37% drop on pre-pandemic levels and the lowest number since March 2016.

Screenshot 2021-01-29 at 15.32.04 Source: Department of Housing

The CEO of Dublin Simon Community, Sam McGuinness, said single homelessness remains “frustratingly high” and the charity warned that the “alarming rise” in single homelessness is being overshadowed by an overall reduction in homelessness figures.

“The bottom line remains that there are still more single people presenting as newly homeless each day than there are moving out of the bulging emergency system and into long-term accommodation,” McGuinness said.

This has to change, and we must make it our urgent priority for 2021. 

The charity said that prices in the private rental market “remain consistently unaffordable, particularly for single people.”

“We are deeply concerned that when Ireland exits this third lockdown period and the current moratorium on evictions is lifted, the lack of affordability in our housing system will see the numbers of people being pushed into homelessness increase again,” the charity’s national spokesperson, Wayne Stanley, said.

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simon Source: Dublin Simon Community

The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien said the figures show that “significant progress” was made in addressing homelessness in 2020.

“The numbers in emergency accommodation fell by almost 16% over the past year.  Family homelessness is at its lowest level since March 2016.  Within these families, we have lowest number of dependants recorded as homeless since June 2016,” he said.

Minister O’Brien said that homelessness remains “unacceptably high” and added that his long-term vision is to have more social and affordable homes with much fewer people in emergency accommodation. 

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Ceimin Burke

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