"Highest ever monthly increase in family homelessness" recorded in Dublin last month

Focus Ireland says ending the homeless crisis must be a top priority

Homeless families, Dublin, record numbers, Dublin Region Homeless Executive, DRHE, Focus Ireland, Simon Community, Peter McVerry

The Homeless Jesus sculpture outside Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin | Image: RollingNews.ie

A record total of 134 families, with 269 children, became homeless in Dublin in January.

Focus Ireland says that ending the homeless crisis must be a top priority for the next government.

It says 125 of the overall figure - with 253 children - were 'newly' homeless, according to the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) definition.

The DRHE categorises families as 'newly homeless' where they have not been homeless sometime during the previous two years.

"This highest ever monthly increase in family homelessness is a timely reminder to voters and the political parties that the 'recovery' has not reached a large number of communities and people", Focus Ireland said.

The statistics show that the January 2016 figure of 134 families is a 148% increase on the comparable figure of 54 for January 2015.

Focus Ireland is calling for five election demands to be delivered by the new government to help end the current housing and homeless crisis.

These demands include calling for the next government to set a firm target date for ending family homelessness, and also a commitment to build 40,000 social homes over the next five years.

The charity's Director of Advocacy, Mike Allen, says the amount of families losing their homes is unbelievable:

While the Dublin Simon Community has expressed alarm at the rising number of families in emergency accommodation in the capital - at 769.

Sam McGuinness from the Dublin Simon Community said: "If we look at January 2015, this is a 114% increase".

"Many of these families are accessing hotel rooms with no facilities to cook or clean and often just a bed to share".

And the Peter McVerry Trust said it is very concerned by the latest 'newly homeless' figures.

Pat Doyle, CEO of Peter McVerry Trust, said: "To go from 41 families in December to 125 in January is an enormous jump and one that lays bare the growing problem of homelessness in Ireland".

"We really hope that this figure is a post-Christmas spike and will not be a trend repeated for the rest of the year".

"However, looking back at last year, 47 families presented as homeless in January 2015 and that turned out to be second lowest figure recorded all year. If this figure of 125 new cases is repeated or even exceeded on a monthly basis throughout the year the consequences would be enormous".

Catherine Murphy, co-leader of the Social Democrats, said the figures are a "shameful indictment of the government’s failure to put in place any strategy to deal with a problem over five years in the making.

"Two years ago I raised this with the Taoiseach when I told him in the Dáil that I have been dealing with housing issues as a public representative for nearly 25 years and I have never seen anything like what I am seeing now. Yet, here we are today, again, with the situation not just worse, but a crisis," she added.