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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -2°C
Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland File photo of Peter McVerry

No evidence that homelessness figures will fall in future, says Peter McVerry

The number of people in emergency accommodation reached a record high once again this week.

HOMELESSNESS CAMPAINGER PETER McVerry has said there is no evidence that the number of people in emergency accommodation will fall in the future.

Homelessness figures in Ireland topped their previous record once again on Friday, with the Department of Housing reporting that 12,441 people were in emergency accommodation in May.

Speaking on Newstalk’s On The Record, McVerry said there is “a growing sense of hopelessness” among homeless people.

He said: “There’s a growing sense that this is their life for years to come because they can’t get out of homelessness.

“[It's] almost impossible to get into the private rented sector, social housing is very very scarce, so they see no future except living in hostels and many of the hostels are not fit for purpose.

“People are being assaulted, their property is being robbed – the hostels are not fit for purpose. And I’ve been saying that for years and nobody cares.”

“It’s not just disappointing. It’s utterly depressing.

“And what is more depressing is that as you look into the future, you don’t see any evidence that those figures are actually going to come down.”

The most recent homelessness figures include 3,699 children, and 8,742 adults.

Campaigners have pointed out that a growing number of those in emergency accommodation are workers.

McVerry said that notices to quit issued at the end of the evictions ban earlier this year will continue to take effect in the coming months, as landlords are required to give a certain amount of notice depending on how long the tenant has been in place.

“I get requests all the time from people in private rented accommodation [saying] ‘in three weeks time I have to be out. What can you do for me?’.

“And the reality is that all I can offer them is a place in the hostel.

“Many have never experienced homelessness before … they’re scared to death going into hostels.

“It’s a nightmare scenario. And as I say the difficulty is that doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel.”

The Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said that the increase in homelessness is “very disappointing”.

He said the Government was continuing to work “tirelessly to try and bring these numbers down and we will do all in our power to do so”.

McVerry said the ban on evictions should be reimposed, with exceptions for landlords in “particular hardship”.

“The majority of people becoming homeless today are coming from the private rented sector,” he said.

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