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The number of people who are homeless climbs to over 10,500 for the first time

There were 117 more people homeless in October than there was in September.

Image: Niall Carson

THE NUMBER OF people who are homeless in Ireland has increased to over 10,500 for the first time.

The Department of Housing released homeless figures for October, indicating that there were 10,514 individuals homeless. That’s an increase of 117 on September’s figures, which Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said “was expected following the introduction of new emergency beds in the Dublin region recently”.

There was a decrease of 23 families and 47 children in emergency accommodation.

The Simon Communities said that there’s been an overall increase of 8.1% since October 2018, when the figure was 9,724.

Wayne Stanley, national spokesperson for the Simon Communities, said that the government must take action to ensure that the thousands facing into Christmas in homelessness and those living with housing insecurity “are given hope”:

There is a need for a clear commitment, backed up by action, that the upwards trend in homelessness will not continue in 2020.

A motion of no confidence in Eoghan Murphy as Housing Minister has been tabled by the Social Democrats, and is being voted on tonight at around 10.30pm. 

Focus Ireland has called on the 4 new TDs in the by-elections to make ending the housing crisis a key priority on entering the Dáil.

Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan: “There’s now over 10,500 people homeless and it is heart breaking to see nearly 4,000 of these are children. Many of these families had their own home last year and will now be spending Christmas with their children stuck in a cramped hotel room or other emergency accommodation.”

The Official Winter Rough Sleeper Count was also published today – it represents a 41% decrease on the 2018 figure – a total of 92 people are confirmed as rough sleeping across the Dublin region in Winter 2019 compared to 152 in 2018.

The count was carried out on the night of 26 November into the morning of 27 November.

Peter McVerry Trust, the national housing and homeless charity, welcomed “a marked decline” in the number of people sleeping rough in the city. 

“We are encouraged to see such a significant drop in the official number of people sleeping rough,” Pat Doyle, the CEO of the Peter McVerry Trust said.

“A 41% decline on last year’s count is a hugely positive outcome and a welcome reduction at a time of huge challenges for people impacted by homelessness.”

The charity said that the drop is “closely linked” to an increase in resources provided by the DRHE in the form of additional emergency beds, intensified street outreach work by Peter McVerry Trust and Dublin Simon.

An increase in Housing First targets for Dublin has also resulted in more homes secured for people who were sleeping rough across the city, it added.

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Political criticism

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Housing, Planning and Local Government Darragh O’Brien has criticised the government off the back of these figures:

“This is a shocking indictment of the government, they continue to fail in one of the most basic needs for our people, a safe and secure home. Rebuilding Ireland has failed, what we need to see is this crisis being met by crisis measures and currently it’s not.”

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