Latest figures show number of homeless people continuing to rise

The Housing Minister is holding an emergency summit on the crisis tomorrow

Latest figures show number of homeless people continuing to rise

Eoghan Murphy. Image: RollingNews.ie

Updated 19.35

More than 8,000 people were homeless in July, according to new figures.

The data from the Housing Department includes the number of people using state-funded emergency accommodation.

It shows 8,160 people, including 2,973 children, were homeless in July of this year.

The figures include 1,429 families.

It marks a further increase on the June figures, when 7,941 people were homeless. The latest figures show an increase of more than 200 people, including 78 children, in only a month.

Commenting on today's report, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said: "Repairing our broken housing sector is my top priority as Minister. These homelessness figures are a reminder of the scale of the challenge we face.

"As I have previously said, we must continue to work hard and redouble our efforts. There is no shortage of will or determination to deal with this issue. Resources are not an obstacle to the urgent efforts required."

Responding to today's figures Labour Senator Kevin Humphreys says "urgent measures" are need to bring properties into use for homeless people & families.

He argued: "It has been estimated than anywhere between 2,500 and 6,000 apartments and houses in Dublin are now marketed as full time, short term lets through platforms like AirBnB.

"It is time that this was tackled through planning enforcement to put them back into use for families. It's not acceptable that thousands of possible homes in our capital city are used for tourists over families."

Children's charity Barnardos said it is "yet again appalled" by the figures.

Highlighting that many homeless children will have returned to school over the last week, June Tinsley, Barnardos Head of Advocacy, observed: "Beginning a new school year still without a home will dash the hopes of the many children who believed their stay in a hotel, B&B or other emergency arrangement to be only temporary." 

Emergency summit

There has been fresh attention on the country's homeless crisis in recent days, with four homeless people across the country reported to have died over the last week.

Minister Murphy has called on emergency summit in Dublin tomorrow as part of his efforts to address the crisis, with the heads of all the country's local authorities set to attend.

Sinn Féin is planning to protest outside the summit because councillors have not been invited to take part.

Dublin City Councillor Daithi Doolan says the Housing Minister is missing an opportunity to tackle the issue properly.

He suggested that talking to some county managers about the housing crisis is "like talking to the Swiss government about coastal erosion... it's not on their agenda".

Barnados Chief Executive Fergus Finlay spoke to The Hard Shoulder about his hopes for the summit.

He explained: "I'm hoping [for a] change in direction. I'm hoping that the Government will decide it has to build.

"I'm hoping that they will acknowledge that there's a national emergency, and that the only solution possible is a massive house building programme."