The number of homeless people has reached a new high of 11,632, with the greatest increase among single adults.
The Department of Housing figures published on Friday were described as “shameful”, “profoundly upsetting”, “shocking” and “worrying” by homeless support groups, Opposition politicians and campaigners amid calls for an extension to the eviction ban that is due to expire in two months.
Government sources said there have been no conversations about extending the ban, with one saying that as things stand the ban will be lifted as planned from April.
The figures show there has been a 30 per cent increase in homelessness in the space of a year. It was also the first increase in homelessness in December since current records began in late 2014. Numbers usually fall slightly during the month as families take homeless friends and relatives in over Christmas and landlords postpone evictions.
During the week from December 19th to 25th last there were 8,190 adults and 3,442 children in emergency accommodation, up from 6,466 adults and 2,451 children – 8,917 in total – a year earlier.
The total for November was 11,542, including 8,048 adults and 3,494 children, indicating the upward trend continues to be driven by single adults without children. Looking at single adults, there were 5,571 in emergency accommodation in December, compared with 5,423 the month before and 4,722 in December 2021 – an 18 per cent increase in a year.
Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said it was “‘the first December increase in homelessness for a very long time” and that the fact the numbers were rising while a temporary ban on evictions is in place “is deeply troubling”.
“With the eviction ban due to expire at the end of March, there is no doubt that homelessness, and in particular homeless families, will increase dramatically in 2023,” he said.
The Government had “abjectly failed” to use the period of the eviction ban to to accelerate social housing delivery and had “failed to meet” its targets for last year.
[ Life in a homeless hub: ‘I have nowhere to go... If I’m upset, I get under my bed’ ]
Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien described the increase, albeit at a slower pace than past months, as “worrying”. He said it “emphasises the necessity for the winter eviction moratorium” which started in November and runs until April 1st.
“Addressing the homeless situation remains a top priority for this Government,” he said. “Resources and funding are not an obstacle to the urgent efforts required.”
He said the Government was working to increase the number of tenant in situ purchases made by local authorities and that “we will continue to accelerate the delivery of much needed social homes which will help those who are experiencing homelessness”.
Focus Ireland chief executive Pat Dennigan said the figures were “shameful” and must “impel the Government to take far more urgent and effective action before the crisis deepens even further”.
Wayne Stanley, executive director at the Simon Communities, said it was clear the private rented sector “does not have the capacity to provide the secure affordable accommodation that is needed”.
He said local authorities must make more use of powers to buy homes from landlords who are selling up and where a tenant is on a council housing list.
[ A homeless life: ‘I’d sneak on to a boat in Dún Laoghaire harbour and try to cosy myself’ ]
Dublin Simon chief executive Catherine Kenny said
at least 2,700 households became homeless in Dublin for the first time last year.
“That’s 52 households per week, or seven households per day, who lost the roof over their heads,” she said. “This equates to five single adults and two families becoming homeless every day in 2022. While seven households entered homelessness on a daily basis, only two households exited to a home.
“More and more people are becoming trapped in a system backlog that is straining under immense pressure and the prospect of a home is moving further and further out of reach.”