By Dominic McGrath, PA
The Minister for Housing has said that he is seriously concerned, as new figures reveal a rise in the number of homeless people in Ireland.
The figures released by the Department of Housing show that on March 9th, 825 people were homeless.
It represents a rise of 3.5 per cent since February.
Around 5,000 of those homeless are single adults, while 1,238 families are without a home and accessing emergency accommodation.
Over 2,800 children are homeless, according to the figures.
Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said that the figures were a “serious concern”.
“The Government, local authorities and others are making every effort to reduce homelessness. Key to this is the delivery of new social housing and boosting overall supply,” he said.
“The Government is investing significantly in social and affordable housing, with a record €4 billion allocated for current and capital investment in housing this year alone.
“We are providing more social homes, we are completing more homes in general, and we have a strong pipeline of homes commenced.
“This supply activity, as well as targeted measures specifically centred on homelessness, will allow us to meet the challenge of eradicating homelessness.”
Homeless and housing charities have been warning for several months that the numbers may worsen, as many of the supports and protections introduced at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic are removed.
The vast majority of those homeless are in Dublin, with 4,886 adults recorded as homeless in the Irish capital in March.
Focus Ireland chief executive Pat Dennigan said: “While the number of families homeless fell during the pandemic, during the period when the Government banned no-fault evictions, the number of single people homeless continued to rise month after month during this time.
“When homelessness was first described as a ‘crisis’ by a Government minister in recent years there were around 2,000 single people homeless, so it is hard to find language which describes our current situation.
“Over the intervening years we have been much better at building new homeless shelters than we have been at building new social homes, and that must change.”
Mr Dennigan said that Ireland “must and should do both” when it comes to tackling the housing crisis and finding homes for Ukrainian refugees.
The Government had admitted that it is under pressure to provide accommodation to arriving Ukrainian refugees.
“We need to recognise that our chronic shortage of affordable homes creates profound challenges. This should not preclude the Irish government and Irish people from welcoming refugees fleeing war, persecution and threats to their safety,” he said.
“We must and should do both, and we cannot allow it to be an either/or situation.”