Wednesday 23 January 2019

Number of homeless children at a record high over Christmas

President Michael D Higgins with Billy Weekes at the Dublin Central Mission. Photo: Maxwell’s
President Michael D Higgins with Billy Weekes at the Dublin Central Mission. Photo: Maxwell’s
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

A record number of children and families will be spending this Christmas without a home.

For the first time ever, the number of homeless children hit 3,333 last month, up from a previous high of 3,194 in October, according to the latest figures from the Department of Housing.

The figures, released by Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy last night, reveal that 1,530 families were officially homeless during the period of November 22 to 26.

The total number of homeless adults is also at a record high of 5,524. The figures include 2,437 people living in private emergency accommodation, such as hotels and B&Bs, as well as 2,974 in temporary accommodation.

The bulk of the homeless are in Dublin, in which 3,691 people were recorded accessing homeless services by the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive.

Mike Allen, director of advocacy for the homeless charity Focus Ireland, said the figures were "depressing" but "not surprising".

"We're continuing to see a large number of people coming into homelessness," he told the Irish Independent last night.

However, what is surprising is that the temporary lull in evictions that typically occurs in the run-up to Christmas didn't happen this year and the number of those facing a bleak Christmas is growing, he warned.

Meanwhile, President Michael D Higgins paid tribute to those working with the homeless as he spoke about the housing crisis in his annual Christmas message.

"This Christmas, once again, the burden of homelessness will overshadow the festive season for those deprived of a secure and permanent shelter," he said.

"We are challenged, I suggest, to turn this time of celebration into a sustained commitment of awareness and care for those for whom each day is an act of survival," he said.

"May I thank those who work so tirelessly to support those in our society who are vulnerable.

"I have been fortunate to meet with so many groups and volunteers who have shone, and continue to shine, a light of hope into the lives of some of our most marginalised people.

"Their work is an inspiring example and an uplifting reminder of the real will and capacity that exists among the people of Ireland, to re-imagine our society, and achieve an inclusive republic for all."

Irish Independent

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