Republic of Ireland news

Number of homeless people in Ireland hits record high

A general view of tents belonging to homeless people in front of a newly constructed office block on Dublin's Grand Canal. (PA)
Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

A new record high of 11,632 people are homeless in Ireland according to the latest official figures – which also show almost 3,500 children were in emergency accommodation for Christmas.

It means that new peaks have been set for six months in a row, despite a temporary eviction ban being in place since November.

The official Department of Housing figures for December published on Friday show there were 8,190 adults and 3,442 children recorded as homeless.

The total figure for November was 11,542 people.

The official tally excludes rough sleepers, women in refuges, people who are ‘couch surfing', and those who are turned away from emergency accommodation when there is no space.

Executive director of the Simon Communities of Ireland, Wayne Stanley said it was “profoundly upsetting” to see homelessness continue to increase.

“We usually see a trend in December, where the number of people depending on emergency homeless accommodation falls as family and friends offer respite over the Christmas period.

“While this support was evident again last month, and we did see a fall in the number of families and children in homelessness, overall we saw an increase in December for the first time in six years.”

Focus Ireland said this was the first time that homeless numbers have risen every month in a calendar year since the numbers were first released in 2014, and represented a “shocking” 30% rise in the space of a year.

The charity said that child homelessness has increased 40% compared to December 2021.

Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said it was easy to become “despondent”, but urged action to be taken.

“We are now halfway through the breathing space that the winter eviction ban creates, and we are calling on the Government to publish a progress report on how it has used this time and what it plans to put in place before the end of the current ban.

“It is crucial to remind ourselves that homelessness is solvable.

“It is not normal or acceptable and is due to nearly 10 years of poor policies and can be stopped over time by improved measures that are implemented quickly.

“The failures of successive governments have created a crisis where over 3,400 children will spend their days and nights in emergency accommodation.

“These are human beings, not just figures, and too many children, families and single people are suffering trauma caused by homelessness. Ultimately lives are being stolen and we simply cannot accept this as a society.”