Number of homeless people increased by more than 500 last month

Homelessness charity Focus Ireland described the latest increase as 'shocking'

Number of homeless people increased by more than 500 last month

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

The number of homeless people in emergency accommodation has hit a new high of more than 9,000, the Government's latest figures reveal.

According to data released by the Department of Housing, there were 9,104 people in emergency accommodation in January - 5,837 adults and 3,267 children.

It marks an increase of more than 500 people compared to the December figure of 8,587, a 6% increase in one month.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said the increase "was anticipated to a degree".

He said: "One reason for this was the 200 new permanent beds added to the system in the last quarter of last year, and which had been flagged as having an impact previously, as well as the emergency beds added as part of the cold weather initiatives undertaken over the winter period, which were fully in use during the month of January. "

However, he also acknowledged that the increase in the number of homeless families compared to December was unexpected - up to 1,517 compared to 1,408 last month.

Minister Murphy added: "The numbers are not back to the high of November and the rate of increase of family homelessness has stabilised to a large extent over the past year.

"However the extent of the increase in January was not anticipated and, following a meeting with the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive, I have requested that they investigate the matter further and prepare a detailed report for review."

Focus Ireland described the latest increase as 'shocking'.

The charity's spokesperson Mike Allen observed: "We are deeply concerned by the Government's continued emphasis on the delivery of Hubs to tackle this human crisis of family homelessness.

"The Government admits that Hubs are only a 'first response' but there is still no sign of them delivering a second, substantive response which is adequate to the crisis we are facing."

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett called the Government's housing strategy an 'utter failure', arguing: "It is hardly surprising that the figures of homelessness keep increasing when the housing that is offered to people is not permanent and secure council housing.

"The only sustainable solution to the housing emergency is a national house building programme."

The latest figures come as both Government agencies & charities ramp up operations in preparation for the expected cold weather later this week.

Officials have confirmed rough sleepers will have access to all-day accommodation & shelter during the freezing conditions.