Progress on homelessness made during pandemic 'rapidly' being lost, charity warns

As official homeless figures have risen almost 14% in six months, the Simon Communities warned progress made is being lost
Progress on homelessness made during pandemic 'rapidly' being lost, charity warns

“Urgent action” is needed to prevent a return to the levels of homelessness seen in Ireland prior to the Covid pandemic, a charity has warned, with recent progress "rapidly" being lost.

The latest figures from the Department of Housing show there were 9,099 men, women and children in homeless emergency accommodation during the last week of November 2021.

Among these, there were 1,108 families, up 26 on the previous month, and 2,548 children or dependents, up 35 on the previous month. The number of homeless single adults also rose by 198 on the previous month to 4,763.

The Simon Communities of Ireland said the total figure is an increase of just over three per cent (269 people) in one month and an increase of 13.9 per cent (1,108 people) in the six months reported since the moratorium of evictions was lifted in May 2021.

At that time, the total number of people in emergency accommodation had reduced to 7,991.

The value of the positive interventions brought in as a response to the pandemic is rapidly being lost

Wayne Stanley, head of policy and communication at the Simon Communities, said the almost 14 per cent rise in official homeless figures in six months “again highlights the need to address the structural problems in our housing system.”

“The November figures show us that the value of the positive interventions brought in as a response to the pandemic is rapidly being lost,” he said.

“Homelessness was reduced by 19.3 per cent month-on-month between March 2020 and May 2021, when the moratorium on evictions was lifted.

“Today’s statistics show that we are rapidly returning to pre-pandemic levels of homelessness.

“Urgent action is needed to mitigate the impact of these issues. That means a sharp focus on prevention while work continues to address the supply of affordable housing.”

Prevention action

The Simon Communities said one immediate prevention action that could be taken was the implementation of the Simon Homeless Prevention Bill, which provides up to 12 weeks emergency extension of protection in their current accommodation to those deemed at risk of homelessness.

“Now we must see these principles put to action and the substance of the Simon Bill passed into legislation in the first quarter of 2022,” Mr Stanley said.

“The Simon Bill is a targeted measure that can see the number of people forced to enter homelessness reduced, but it will not suffice on its own. Early intervention to prevent homelessness also requires Government action to increase housing supply, raise HAP rates, regulate the private rented market, and develop a broader range of social support services for those at risk of homelessness.”

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