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Slight decrease of 75 in February homelessness figures

February stats show that there are 8,238 people in emergency accommodation.

Image: PA

THERE WAS A slight decrease in the numbers of homeless people last month, new figures have shown.

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage Monthly Homelessness Report for February found that there were 8,238 people in emergency accommodation across Ireland.

The February statistics show a 75 person reduction when compared with the figures for January.

The data also reveals that there are 5,974 adults and 2,264 children homeless in the State.

Dublin is much worse than all other counties for the amount of people in emergency accommodation with 4,129 adults and 1,760 kids.

That equates to 716 families utilising the service in the capital during February when all other counties are included it the amount of homeless families is 935. There are no details given of rough sleepers.

In the same period in 2020 the homelessness report said there were 1610 families in emergency accommodation with 3,534 dependents. There were 6,614 adults at that time. 

Pat Dennigan, Focus Ireland CEO, said that the importance of the eviction ban cannot be stressed but added that there was likely to be an increase in homelessness when the measure is lifted once the country is permitted to travel beyond 5km.  

“If the 5km movement restriction is lifted this means that many renters will face the prospect of an eviction while we continue to live with very serious restrictions and while the public health crisis remains acute,” he said.

“The Government must ensure that tenants continue to be protected after the 5km restriction is lifted and must secure that, going forward, protections from evictions are not tied to any movement restriction.

“Focus Ireland believes there should be a moratorium on all evictions while there are restrictions on visits to other households – as evicted households will inevitably be forced to break these measures with well understood health risks.

“A broader eviction ban will help to keep people safe in their homes and prevent homeless services from becoming stretched,” he added.

Dennigan added that family breakdowns and people having to give up informal housing arrangements, such as sofa-surfers, would form a proportion of single people who are homeless.

“There is still a huge shortage of one-bed apartments in Ireland, which would be the preferred accommodation for many of the single adults who are becoming trapped in this system.

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“We need to develop a response to homelessness which is robust and sophisticated enough to support everyone who needs it, rather than rushing from one aspect of the crisis to another as it demands attention,” he added.

Wayne Stanley, National Spokesperson for Simon Communities of Ireland said that the group is concerned that when the moratorium on evictions is lifted there will be a spike in homelessness.

“In the periods over the past year, when the protections for renters were reduced, we saw more movement into homelessness, albeit at a low level. We need to learn those lessons and make sure we get ahead of this.  

“That means putting permanent legislative protection in place to ensure that people are not evicted into homelessness. 

“Homeless prevention supports, similar to those available in the UK and other jurisdictions must be rolled out, with local authority resources mobilised to stop homelessness before it starts and divert people at risk into a home,” he said.

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