Close to 2,500 children spent the Christmas period in homeless emergency accommodation, according to new figures released by the Department of Housing.
Charities have welcomed a “small drop” in Ireland’s latest homelessness figures, which show 8,914 men, women and children in emergency accommodation during the last week of December.
This represents a decrease of 2 per cent (185 people) in one month but an increase of 8.7 per cent (714 people) on the same period in 2020, when 8,200 people were recorded in the official figures.
There were 1,077 families in emergency accommodation last month, a drop of 31 families on the previous month.
There were also 2,451 children or dependents in emergency accommodation, down 3.8 per cent on the previous month, while 4,722 were single adults, down one per cent on the previous month.
The Simon Communities of Ireland said the drop in official figures was “very welcome but expected.”
We anticipate that the numbers will increase again in January and over the first quarter of 2022
“We know that people go the extra mile over the Christmas period to offer relief to those in need. We anticipate that the numbers will increase again in January and over the first quarter of 2022. In fact, well beyond that if significant action is not taken,” said Wayne Stanley, head of policy and communication at the Simon Communities.
“We are continuing to work with the members of the Oireachtas and the Minister on the Simon Prevention Bill. In the medium term, if we turn our attention to vacant and derelict properties, we can hopefully [have] some additional housing capacity coming on stream in the medium term.”
The Peter McVerry Trust also welcomed the “slight decrease” in official figures, noting it is “the first decrease in the monthly national homeless figures since last May.”
“December is typically one of the busiest months for the homeless sector so it’s positive to see even a small drop, it moves us in the right direction,” said Pat Doyle, chief executive of the Peter McVerry Trust.
“We need to continue to work with our partners and local authorities to deliver not only additional emergency accommodation, but also long-term social housing solutions.
“Peter McVerry Trust is committed to expanding our Housing First programme under the Government’s recently published Housing First National Implementation Plan for 2022-2026 – giving entrenched rough sleepers not only the key to their own door but also the supports they need to keep maintain and retain their tenancy.”
The Trust is also continuing work to deliver more social housing through the regeneration of derelict or vacant buildings, Mr Doyle added.