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Minister for Housing

Government haven't yet decided to extend eviction ban despite record homelessness, says O'Brien

A new record high of 11,632 people are homeless, according to the latest official figure.

NO DECISION HAS been made by the government on extending a ban on evictions despite record homelessness figures, Darragh O’Brien said today.

A temporary eviction ban has been in place since November and is due to expire at the end of March.

A new record high of 11,632 people are homeless, according to the latest official figures released on Friday – including 8,190 adults and almost 3,500 children.

The minister accepted that the homeless figures are too high on RTÉ’s This Week programme, but refused to acknowledge that the situation was “shameful”, when asked by host Justin McCarthy.

“Look, it’s a really difficult situation,” O’Brien said.

“We brought in extraordinary measures like the winter eviction ban, the numbers are too high but we’ve seen some small positives within it. We’ve seen a reduction in the number of families presenting to emergency accommodation.”

“Fundamentally, to tackle this issue, which is our number one priority, we need to see people exiting from homelessness to safe and secure homes.

“The eviction ban runs to the end of March, but at scale, there’s no cliff edge to it, it runs in many instances to the middle of June,” he said.

Tenancies that were less than six months old when the ban came into place will continue to be protected until 18 June.

The minister added that any decision in regards to extending the eviction ban would be made by Cabinet and that the record homeless figures released may be inaccurate as they were recorded in December.

“We’re a month behind and we have seen a significant leveling off. Any measures that I can bring in that are going to help people in that regard, I will bring forward.”

“Any measures that are brought forward obviously have to have legal consultation with the Attorney General and his office, but we’re keeping this under very, very close review,” O’Brien continued.

When asked if he expected this year to see a decrease in homelessness when compared to 2022, O’Brien said:

“I hope so. That’s our intention. And we’ve seen a leveling off of it, there are challenges within it that can be difficult to predict.”

He added that 8,500 vacant social houses have been brought back into use in the last two and a half years and that an extension to the eviction ban has to be considered in terms of the private rental market.

“We’ve got to ensure that they don’t have an unintended consequence of seeing a further flight of stock within that sector, which we’ve seen since 2016, particularly on the private individual landlords with a significant amount of them leaving the market.”

When asked about the government’s 2022 target for social housing, O’Brien said:

“I can tell you very confidently, that new built social homes will be in the region of seven and a half to 8,000, which will be up from 5,000 in the previous year.” 

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