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'We've seen more working people and others who wouldn't be homeless in normal circumstances'

While some have predicted a sudden, large increase in homelessness after the lifting of the eviction ban, others say the increase will be more gradual.

HOMELESS CHARITIES HAVE spoken about the breadth of people being affected by the housing crisis, citing a rise in single elderly people as well as people who are in employment. 

According to Depaul, single elderly people are at particular risk of becoming homeless after eviction because of the lack of affordable accommodation and access to social housing.

They are also likely to have difficulty accessing healthcare while in emergency accommodation. 

 The Department of Housing’s most recent homelessness report showed that 30% of the 8,369 adults who accessed emergency accommodation in February were aged 45 and over. 

“There is a significant rise in referrals of single men who are working and who have been asked to leave their property due to the landlord selling up,” said Depaul CEO David Carroll. 

“There is a lack of affordable and suitable accommodation in the private rental sector for single, elderly men and they are being priced out of the housing market.” 

A spokesperson for Depaul added: “The only access for housing for this group is social housing or private rented and these are very scarce for such individuals within current market conditions.”

Other charities have also seen a rise in the number of people coming to them looking for help, but the commonality they are seeing more than anything is the arrival of more and more working people who have been evicted from their homes.

“We’ve seen more people who work and people who are not in the normal circumstances of people who usually become homeless,” said Mike Allen of Focus Ireland.

There’s always some interaction with homelessness between economic circumstances and personal challenges, but the balance has shifted in the last couple of years really dramatically, but particularly in the last six months.

“There’s a much higher proportion of people who, you know, there’s no social, behavioural or addiction issues that in any way explain the situation that they’re in.

“Their only common feature is that they were renting privately and that their landlord decided to sell up or to move their family in. It’s transforming their lives in a very negative way.”

Depaul’s statement also detailed concerns over people’s access to medical care as they face the considerable negative health impacts that result from being made homeless, as well as dealing with existing conditions. 

“Some of the most common impacts result in significant comorbidity and chronic illness such as diabetes or addiction related issues. We see a significant number of service users with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and emphysema as well as a general deterioration of health that’s associated with being in homelessness.

“Research has shown that those living in homelessness age at a more premature rate than their contemporaries who are not in homelessness,” the charity said. 


A rise in the number of people seeking accommodation and other services after the government’s decision to lift its ban on no-fault evictions is expected to put further strain on homeless charities like Depaul, according to the charity’s spokesperson.

“The increase in evictions will immediately see an increase in people needing to access our services and impact the availability of move-on options for people already in homelessness.

“This represents a huge amount of uncertainty and that absence of control and agency is traumatising for people. It’s hard to maintain hope when you can’t see an exit for yourself.

“People are already under pressure and in a state of anxiety because of the eviction ban which will have inevitable mental health and physical health consequences in the short and long term,” said the spokesperson. 

Depaul has called for an increase in healthcare services for those affected by eviction in order to meet the resulting healthcare challenges. 

Many of the older people referred to us suffer from chronic conditions including heart disease, asthma (requiring medication), kidney disease, liver disease, and respiratory illnesses. 

“We need to make sure that if people with existing health conditions find themselves in temporary accommodation such as private emergency accommodation or hotels that proper health care interventions follow that person and that they have such services readily available to them.”

Depaul’s CEO said in a statement that “clarity will be needed” from the likes ‘of the HSE on how such services can be provided.

“We are mindful that people with complex vulnerabilities may end up in homelessness and the role of the HSE will be crucial to monitor trends in physical and mental health and to support these vulnerable individuals,” Carroll said.

“Our experience is that homelessness worsens health conditions and if people enter homelessness, there will be inevitable health consequences.”

Back in 2019, The Journal spoke to Carroll about the situation and it seems that little has changed between then and now, except for the rise in cases of homelessness. 

Speaking at the time, Carroll said:

“We know from working with these people that they are more than capable of living independently. Unfortunately, options for single homeless people remain incredibly limited so we must look at new ways of helping those stuck in homelessness for greater periods.”   

What the other charities are seeing

NO REPRO FEE 007 DEPAUL Sleepout Depaul's Annual Sleep Out fundraiser is happening on 19 May. Sasko Lazarov Sasko Lazarov

Louisa Santoro, CEO of Mendicity, another homeless charity, agrees with Allen’s assessment about the range of people affected. 

“The landscape of homelessness has completely changed. We’re seeing people that are working, people that, you know, should be renting that just won’t be able to hang on.

There’s a real misunderstanding at the top level, and I’m not going to be the first person to says this, of the situation that people are really in.

On single people coming to them for help she said: 

“We already see them. All of the people who use our service are single-person households, we rarely see couples or families.”

She also says that while the number of older people availing of their services, which include food banks and the distribution of hygiene products, is rising, it is not a new phenomenon. 

“We’re working with a guy at the moment who’s 62 and there are other older people but that would have been the situation before. It’s certainly rising but it’s not something new for us,” she said. 

A rising tide rather than a tsunami 

While many commentators have been predicting a sudden, large increase in homelessness, Allen believes it will be more gradual. 

Aside from those tenants who are given the first chance to buy the property if their landlord has decided to sell, which is a measure the government hopes will help people to avoid becoming homeless, Allen says there are others who are being forgotten. 

“There’s a whole group of people that we’re not talking about,” he says, referring to those tenants who are evicted when a landlord wants to move themselves or a family member in and not sell, which is now permitted without the eviction ban in place. 

The numbers may be rising but Allen believes the consequences of lifting the ban will be borne out over the next year, rather than just this week. 

“There’s all this sort of lurid talk about a tsunami and it’s quite likely not what’s going to happen,” he says. “It’s not going to be like that. It’s going to be a lot slower. 

“For the single people with families, they go and live with somebody for a week or a month or several months. They didn’t immediately end up in homelessness the day after the eviction ban ended.

“We’re going to see slowly but steadily a rising tide over a period of five, six, seven months.” 

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