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Charities urge action as homeless numbers soar above 10,000 again

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A homeless man with his tent on the banks of the Grand Canal outside the Hilton Hotel

A homeless man with his tent on the banks of the Grand Canal outside the Hilton Hotel

A homeless man with his tent on the banks of the Grand Canal outside the Hilton Hotel

The number of homeless people in emergency accommodation crept back up over the 10,000 mark last month, the latest figures from the Department of Housing reveal.

There were 10,271 homeless adults and children using emergency accommodation through local authorities, including hotels, B&Bs, hostels and other facilities during the week of January 20 to 26.

Families

The figures comprise 6,697 adults and 3,574 children.

They also include a total of 1,611 homeless families, of which 925 are single-parent families.

Most homeless people were concentrated in the Dublin region, with a total of 4,600 adults aged between 18 and 65.

The largest cohort of homeless nationwide were 3,850 adults aged between 25 and 44, followed by 1,814 aged between 45 and 64.

There were also 869 young people aged between 18 and 24 in emergency accommodation, followed by 164 seniors over the age of 65.

The majority of homeless people (3,406) were housed in private emergency accommodation in hotels and B&Bs, followed by 3,233 who were housed in supported accommodation such as hostels.

A spokesman for the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government said the increase in the number of homeless in January from December - which experienced a 7pc decline from the previous month to a total of 9,713 adults and children at the end of December - was disappointing.

"Over the 12 months in 2019 we saw the number of people in emergency accommodation falling for the first time in many years," the spokesman said.

"This overall fall in numbers was not always obvious from the month to month figures.

"January has always been a challenging month. The challenge now is to continue the overall 2019 trend through 2020."

Homeless charities said last night that the crisis needed to be a priority for the next government.

Pat Doyle, chief executive of the Peter McVerry Trust, said that while the charity was also disappointed with the figures, it was not surprised.

Stable

"Our hope was that the number of people in emergency accommodation would not reach 10,000 again, following such a sharp decline in the official figure for December 2019," he said.

"While we cautioned that we would expect to see some increase in people in homelessness in January, as is consistent with previous years, it is nonetheless disappointing to be once again above 10,000 people."

He said there was now "an urgent need for a stable government to be formed to continue our focus on efforts to tackle homelessness".

"We need politicians to acknowledge the need for a government to be formed as soon as possible," he added.

"The new government needs to gives us stability, certainty and clarity of direction in the efforts to ramp up social housing delivery."

He said that whoever formed the next government needed to make sure when it came to homelessness that efforts were strengthened to prevent new cases arising.

"If we can do better on prevention measures and build homes to reflect the needs that exist, then we should start to see a sustained reduction in people accessing emergency accommodation," he said.

The Simon Communities agreed, noting that homelessness in Ireland had soared 267pc in the past five years alone, which it called "a clear call to action".

Meanwhile, Dublin's Radio Nova is hosting its annual Help Our Homeless Radiothon today and tomorrow to raise funds for Focus Ireland.

The event, now in its sixth year, is encouraging all listeners to donate what they can.


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