Republic of Ireland news

Figures show 11,742 people homeless as eviction ban due to end

Tents owned by homeless people in front of an office block on Dublin's Grand Canal (PA)
Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

There are 11,742 people in emergency homeless accommodation as of last month, according to the Government’s official tally.

Figures compiled by the Department of Housing show that there were 8,369 adults and 3,373 children who were homeless in February.

This represents a slight decrease on the 11,754 people recorded as being homeless in January, and the first time there has not been a new record high struck in the official figures in over six months.

Housing charity Focus Ireland said that this still represented a 24% rise in homelessness over 12 months, while the Simon Communities said the slight reduction indicated that the eviction ban was “doing its work”.

Rough sleepers, people in refuges, or people who are couch surfing are not included in the Department’s figures.

The numbers have been published on the evening before the Government’s temporary eviction ban ends, and after the Government came under pressure in the Dail over its decision to end it amid a severe shortage of affordable housing.

Since last Wednesday it has faced three separate votes over its decision to end the moratorium on no-fault evictions, which it won in all three cases.

Warnings have been issued that housing charities and homeless services are to come under pressure in the coming weeks as the eviction ban ends.

Focus Ireland has called the lifting of the eviction ban a “heartless” decision that is already causing “widespread fear”.

Its head of communications Roughan Mac Namara said: “We have been talking about a homelessness and housing crisis for over 10 years and it is hard to believe how heartless this decision to lift the eviction ban (is).

“We had warned the Government that this decision means we are about to enter a new phase of homelessness where we are likely to see families sleeping on the street because they have been evicted and emergency accommodation is full.

“Focus Ireland and other organisations work closely with the Government, meeting on a regular basis, and we feel have been completely ignored as we have been warning about this reality.

“Nothing has changed since the eviction ban was introduced since November and lifting it will do nothing to allay fears for landlords as they are selling up in vast numbers because of high taxation and market uncertainty.

“We expect to see more terminations from landlords who have been unsettled by the Government’s stop-start approach to this issue.”

Mr Mac Namara said: “The Government believes these measures – such as the Tenant in Situ – could potentially offset the expected wave of evictions.

“We welcome any positive actions to prevent homelessness, however, many of these plans are clearly not fully thought through, not fully ready and even Local Authorities have already said they will take months to complete.

“The breathing space provided by the moratorium has not been used properly.”

Wayne Stanley, executive director of the Simon Communities of Ireland, said that the slight reduction in the figures was welcome.

“What these figures suggest is that the moratorium was doing its work, particularly for families, and keeping people out of homelessness,” he said.

“Unfortunately, it’s ending today, but had it continued and the State taken action to step up initiatives to prevent and address homelessness, there was the potential to make some real and sustained progress.”

Republic of Ireland news