Government urged to declare national emergency following further rise in homelessness

8,374 people were homeless at the end of September

Government urged to declare national emergency following further rise in homelessness

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy. Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Updated 20:05

Charities are again calling for greater action from the government after the latest figures revealed the homelessness crisis has deepened further.

According to the Department of Housing, 8,374 people were in emergency accommodation at the end of September.

It means the number of homeless people in Ireland has risen by 104 since last month’s update.

The national figure includes 5,250 adults and 3,124 children – meaning the number of homeless children has risen by 76.

The figures revealed that 690 families remained in hotels and B&Bs around the country.

In Dublin alone, 5,953 people were in emergency accommodation.

National Emergency

Speaking following the announcement, Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) chief executive Anthony Flynn warned the State is failing to get to grips with the crisis.

He said it “can't be acceptable” for the government to preside over monthly rises in homelessness numbers without calling an emergency sitting of the Dáil and declaring a national emergency.

"A further increase in the number of homeless people in Ireland is a startling indictment on the government,” he said.

“Month-on-month, we have seen consistent increases in those presenting as homeless with no clear intervention to prevent these people becoming homeless in the first place.

“While the number of families that are homeless has dropped over the last six months; the number of children homeless is rising month-on-month.

“This shows that the government are not doing enough to prevent people becoming homeless on one end of the scale and they aren't getting families out of homelessness into proper homes quickly enough to meet the demand. 

“This is a National Emergency and needs to be treated as such - the state is failing."

Greater efforts

Meanwhile, Focus Ireland said it was very concerned over the continuing increase – and called for greater efforts from the government.

Spokesperson Roughan McNamara said loopholes in the private rental market are contributing to the problem:

“The biggest reason for people becoming homeless at the minute is families and individuals being evicted from buy-to-let properties as they are being repossessed or sold on,” he said.

“Focus Ireland has called on the Government repeatedly in recent years to close this loophole that allows these evictions.”

Emergency accommodation

Announcing the figures, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said: "Unfortunately, families and individuals continue to present to our emergency accommodation services.”

“There are still 690 families in hotels,” he said.

"While any one family in a hotel or B&B is one too many, this is still significantly down on the high point in March earlier this year, when 871 families were in hotels and B&Bs.

“This is a 20% decrease in the number of families in hotels and I am working with all stakeholders to ensure that these numbers reduce further over the coming months."

He said that, in Dublin, more families are entering into secure and sustainable homes than are entering in emergency accommodation services.

Mr Flynn warned that while any reduction is a good thing, “it cannot be ignored that his predecessor Simon Coveney had promised that there would be no families in emergency accommodation by July 1st.”

Spinning the figures

Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on housing Eoin Ó Broin accused Minister Murphy of attempting to put a positive spin on the figures:

“You’re trying to put a positive spin to say that the number of families for two months in a row in Dublin has decreased and you are right,” he said.

“It decreased by 32 families from July to August and eight families from August to September – I welcome that.

“But the total number of children who will sleep in emergency accommodation tonight in the city is more than it was a month ago so what is not working?

“Your approach and the policies of your Government are not working.”

Family Hubs

Five new ‘family hubs’ are due to open in Dublin in the coming months with a further three in Limerick and Cork.

Minister Murphy admitted the hubs are “only a first response” but insisted they are “better than hotels.”

He said winter plans are being brought forward in Dublin and other major urban areas - with an additional 197 emergency beds to be delivered in early December.