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Homelessness figures above 10,000 for sixth month in a row

Journal.ie logo Journal.ie 02/09/2019 Dominic McGrath
a man with his mouth open: Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has faced significant criticism in recent months over his approach to homelessness. © Sam Boal RollingNews.ie Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has faced significant criticism in recent months over his approach to homelessness.

THERE ARE MORE than 10,000 people homeless in Ireland for the sixth month in a row, according to the latest figures from the Department of Housing. 

Charities have expressed disappointment after the July figures increased for the first time in recent months, with a total of 10,275 people in emergency accommodation in Ireland – 6,497 adults and 3,778 children. 

The figures show that 1,721 families are homeless Ireland. 

In Dublin, there were 4,300 homeless adults in July, with 221 families deemed homeless. 

In June 2019, 10, 172 people were living in emergency accommodation. July’s figures show that 103 more people were in emergency accommodation compared to June. 

“We continue to do everything we can to get people out of homelessness but the increase in July shows that this remains a huge challenge,” Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said in a statement. 

“There are fewer families and children in emergency accommodation today than this time last year,” he added.

In an interview on RTÉ Radio One this afternoon, Murphy said the government would have to continue committing “time and resources” to the issue. 

Asked about reports that homeless families might be moved to other parts of the country and away from their local communities, Murphy said that “nobody is going to be forced to do anything”. 

“I won’t be moving any families out of their area of choice,” he added. 

Homelessness remains one of the major political issues in Ireland, with Murphy at the receiving end of significant criticism in recent months for his approach to the homelessness crisis. 

“Today’s figures are deeply depressing and are evidence that the Government strategy to tackle the ongoing housing and homelessness crises are not working,” Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin said. 

“The Minister claims he is doing everything he can to address the homeless crisis. This is simply untrue,” he added. 

 ”Solutions to this crisis must be to the fore of political discussion at the highest levels,” Wayne Stanley, a spokesperson for charity Simon Communities, said today. 

“If those in housing exclusion and homelessness are to weather the economic difficulties that lie ahead we need to continue to increase the housing infrastructure that will provide affordable homes,” he added. 

“We also must not forget those not included in these figures; people sleeping rough or surviving in squats, women and children in refuges, people in direct provision and  those who are ‘hidden homeless’ – people staying with family or friends as they have nowhere else to go,” Stanley said. 

Depaul CEO David Carrol said the figures “give a clear indication that we are a long way from making any significant impact on the numbers presenting as homeless”. 

“We need to offer children every chance to excel within their education and residing in hotels and B&Bs can, and will, severely hinder their prospects within education and further in to their lives,” he added. 

CEO of Focus Ireland, Pat Dennigan, called on the government to review its policies to tackle homelessness. While he praised the “good work” being doe, he pointed to the “stark extent of this human crisis” as thousands of children remain homeless. 

New quarterly figures

Murphy also announced that every quarter the Department of Housing will publish “progress reports” on homelessness in Ireland.

The first such report, which covers from January to June, shows that 2,825 people moved into homes after being homeless – a 21% increase on the numbers recorded at the same point in 2018. 

The report also states that in Dublin, for every two families that presented to homelessness services, one was found a home immediately. 

However, the quarterly figures also show that the number of children entering emergency accommodation has remained above 3,600 for every month of 2019. 

It also shows that as of 30 June, 26% of single adults in Dublin were in emergency accommodation for more than 24 months.

“These latest figures make for grim reading and show that not only has the homelessness crisis not gone away, it is getting worse, and Government policy is failing to resolve it,” Labour’s housing spokesperson Jan O’Sullivan said today. 

“The Government has now had three years to turn this crisis around and get building, but the figures are just getting worse,” she added. 

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