However, Focus Ireland warned of “potential increases in the coming months” and called on the Government to reintroduce the eviction ban and rent freeze to protect people fully during COVID-19.
The homeless numbers increased to 8,728 in July, up from 8,699 in June. In July, there were 2,651 children in 1,142 families homeless, according to the latest figures from the Department of Housing.
Homeless figures had passed 10,000 in January 2020 but in June they were down to 8,699, which is 177 less than in May. Of the 8,699 people accessing emergency accommodation in June, 6,046 were adults and 2,653 dependents. There were 1,159 families in emergency accommodation.
There were month-on-month decreases across all demographic and accommodation categories represented in the Department of Housing’s reports.
“We restate our call for increased investment in state-provided housing; measures to limit rent increases, improve security of tenure, and protect families who face eviction from their home; and proposals to convert unused buildings into social housing.”
“The electorate want this problem solved, believes it can be solved but does not believe any party has yet put forward the solutions that are needed to solve it. It is up to the newly elected councillors to show what can be done” – Pat Dennigan, Focus Ireland.
Focus Ireland stressed that much good work is being done but the crisis will continue without a substantial increase in social housing provision as a matter of urgency and a move away from providing yet more emergency accommodation and hubs.
“We believe homelessness is not something that is happening to someone over there that we can ignore. It is completely bound up with the high rents that people are facing, it is the young people not being able to buy or rent homes, it’s the people in mortgage arrears” – Mike Allen, Focus Ireland
The “hidden homeless” are people who often don’t have the option to declare themselves officially homeless and to put themselves on the local authority emergency accommodation list.
“Based on the experience of our 11,000 members, we are willing to engage with Government to relate how future policies should be poverty proofed and work for those families that are struggling,” - Kieran Stafford, SVP National President.
“So many parents in our society today feel that they are failing because they cannot provide security for their children” and many are reluctant to ask for help because of stigma and shame.
Thousands of homeless children have become the norm and no longer shocks us. We have lost our sense of outrage,” - Fr Peter McVerry.
“We believe if the legislation had been passed as many as twenty of the families who became homeless in Dublin every month would still have a home” – Sr Stan.
This must be seen as a “line in the sand” for the government. “They must see this cannot continue,” says Focus Ireland in week where homeless families were directed to Garda stations for shelter.
During 2016, Crosscare, the social care agency of the Archdiocese of Dublin, provided 127,750 bed nights to over 1,600 people in six residences for people experiencing homelessness in the capital.
Fr Peter McVerry appeals for emergency legislation to prevent the banks and landlords from evicting families, particularly those with children, into homelessness.
In its Pre-Budget Submission, the SVP quotes estimate that 25-30% of the population requires support in meeting their housing needs due to low incomes and high costs in Ireland.
“It is important that both politicians and the electorate think about the profoundly damaging impact the housing & homelessness crisis is having on so many."