‘Deeply depressing’: Number homeless in Ireland hits new record high

Latest Department of Housing figures shows increase of 159 in homelessness, as Tánaiste defends lifting eviction ban

The number of people recorded as homeless in the Republic increased to 12,600 last month, a fifth higher than the numbers homeless the same time last year.

The figure is an increase of 159 on the numbers homeless in May, when there were 12,441 people living in emergency accommodation, such as homeless hostels, family hubs, hotel rooms or bed and breakfasts.

Latest Department of Housing figures, published on Friday, show 8,835 adults were homeless in June, as well as 3,765 children.

The numbers recorded as homeless have consistently increased to record levels month on month, with housing and homeless organisations calling for an urgent response from the Government.


There were 93 more adults and 66 more children in emergency accommodation in June, compared to the previous month.

There had been 8,742 adults and 3,699 children in emergency accommodation in May.

The two most common reasons people reported for entering homeless were they had been evicted from rental accommodation, or had a relationship breakdown or change in family circumstances.

More than half of the 1,804 families who were homeless during the week of June 19th-25th were single-parent families.

Some 182 people in homeless accommodation were 65 or older, while 1,517 were aged between 18 and 24.

Nearly a quarter of those in emergency accommodation were originally from the UK or elsewhere in Europe, while just under a fifth were from outside of the European Economic Area.

A Government moratorium on evictions came to an end on a staggered basis from the start of April.

The decision not to extend the ban was criticised by Opposition politicians and housing campaigners at the time, who said it would lead to an increase in people being evicted from the rental market into homelessness.

Speaking at the turning of the sod on over 750 homes in Ballyvolane in Cork, Tánaiste Michéal Martin defended the lifting of the eviction ban.

Mr Martin admitted that he wasn’t satisfied with the latest figures released in the quarterly report by the Department of Housing.

“It [homelessness] is going up and that is not satisfactory – it is something we are very concerned about. The answer is supply,” he said.

Mr Martin said not lifting the eviction ban would have made matters worse.

“It would have made it worse in terms of the supply of properties for rent – in fact, as I said in my speech earlier we are going to have to look at how we can improve the overall environment to get more people to rent out their homes, to come into the rental market.

“To create a more incentivised market in that way because people are going [down the route] of Airbnb, they are doing different things with their homes, they are selling their homes, they are taking them out of the rental market.

“There is no doubt that a combination of factors have given rise to that – if we were to have an indefinite eviction ban then more people would have left the market and more people would leave the market.”

Mr Martin said what the rental market needs now “is a degree of certainty and clarity into the future”.

“And in the forthcoming budget we hope to provide that. But also supply – supply is the key.

“There have been some very big projects announced. Recently the Government announced a huge project in Dublin with 850 homes, likewise in respect of this [Cork] project [with 753 homes].”

“If you look at the figures from the beginning of the year – for quarter one and quarter two – there are a very accelerated number of commencements in the private side and the social housing is going very strongly, and that takes pressure off the private side as well.

“Again, as I say, we will see what we can do on top of that.”

Pat Dennigan, chief executive of Focus Ireland, said record numbers of families were homeless due to challenges finding housing after entering emergency accommodation.

“This means that not only are more families homeless, but they are also stuck in homelessness for longer,” he said.

“These long periods of homelessness do untold damage to families and children,” Mr Dennigan said.

Increases in the supply of new housing was not having an impact on the numbers of people left homeless, he said.

“People who are long-term homeless are too often at the back of the queue and policies are needed to give them a fairer share of the homes that become available,” he said.

David Carroll, chief executive of housing charity Depaul, said the figures showed the need for an “emergency housing budget” in Budget 2024.

“Although we remain hopeful that we can turn a corner, it doesn’t appear that the number of people in temporary accommodation will reduce in significant numbers anytime soon,” he said.

Catherine Kenny, head of Dublin Simon Community, said the 11 per cent increase in homelessness in Dublin on the previous month was “deeply” concerning.

Suzanne Connolly, chief executive of children’s charity Barnardos, said single-parent families were “disproportionately” impacted by homelessness since the end of the eviction ban.

“Lone parents we support are being evicted from homes often with multiple young children,” she said.

Children being “uprooted from their homes” into emergency accommodation were being left with serious and long lasting trauma, she said.

Eoin Ó Broin TD, Sinn Féin housing spokesman, said the department’s latest homeless figures were “deeply depressing”.

“Of course, these figures don’t show the full extent of the homeless crisis. But they are a damning inditement of this Government’s failure to tackle the housing crisis,” he said.

Responding to the figures, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said the situation facing the Government was “very challenging”, but was a priority for the Coalition.

“Resources and funding for tackling homelessness are not an obstacle to the urgent work required to combat homelessness,” he said.

The Government had delivered a record number of social homes last year, with expected further increases in supply helping people at risk of homelessness, he said.

Labour Party Senator Annie Hoey said despite Government “hand-wringing”, homelessness continued to increase.

“The lifting of the eviction ban in April sent a definitive message to renters nationwide – Government are more concerned with keeping private interests on side than protecting those who are squeezed by the housing market,” she said.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times