Local authorities are set to spend €350m on homeless accommodation this year — an estimated €50 million more than last year.
A seminar hosted by Focus Ireland also heard that around 80 per cent of that total will be on emergency accommodation, with monthly homelessness figures rising ever higher across the past year.
The figure was presented at the seminar by Prof Eoin O’Sullivan of Trinity College Dublin, who said the estimated spending by local authorities on what they will spend this year on homeless accommodation equates to €250m in Dublin and around €100m outside the capital.
Some €140 million was spent on private sector providers last year, as per the latest estimate, and the average cost of maintaining a household is running at €35,000 a year on average, rising to €40,000 a year in Dublin.
The figures are also contained in a new report by Focus Ireland, Public Expenditure on Services for Households Experiencing Homelessness, by Prof O’Sullivan, who is professor of Social Policy, and others.
Referring to the €350 million likely spend this year, Prof O’Sullivan said this was “a very considerable increase”. Figures show that as recently as 2014 a total of €70 million was spent on homeless services.
The level of expenditure on emergency accommodation by private providers last year was double that of the NGO sector and was at its highest level ever in 2022, as was the average cost of maintaining a homeless household.
Those attending the seminar also heard that while expenditure on social housing is rising each year, the percentage of money spent on housing supports, such as HAP, has fallen.
The seminar was also told that Ireland is one of the countries which has both planned use of private sector accommodation by homeless services, and unplanned or ‘overflow’ use of private sector accommodation, effectively sparked by indefinite placements due to capacity problems in homelessness services and very low availability of affordable housing.
That finding is contained in a European report by the European Observatory on Homelessness and was presented by co-author Prof Nicholas Pleace of the University of York, who said that in France, Ireland and the UK there was evidence of sustained, unplanned ‘overflow’ use of private sector accommodation as existing homelessness and dedicated temporary accommodation systems are routinely overwhelmed.
Among the participating Member States, the highest absolute and relative use of private sector temporary accommodation was occurring in France, Germany, Ireland, and Sweden.