NGOs concerned by rise in single people experiencing homelessness


The number of those experiencing homelessness in Ireland rose by 113 people between December and January of this year, according to new figures published by the Department of Housing.

A total of 8,313 men, women and children accessed emergency homeless accommodation in January.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have expressed concern as the increase saw a further 114 adults homeless, from 5,873 in December to 5,987 in January.

Focus Ireland said the January figures confirmed a long-term trend of rising homelessness among single people, which is the subject of a new analysis by the group.

According to the “Focus On Homelessness” report, while family homelessness decreased by 37 per cent during 2020, adult-only household homelessness increased by almost 10 per cent over the same period.

There is still a huge shortage of one-bed apartments in Ireland

In October 2020, the number of adult-only households in homelessness reached its highest-ever level, with just below 5,000 single adults in emergency accommodation.

The analysis found that the capital accounts for around 75 per cent of the total homeless population of Ireland, as well as the majority of homeless families.

Focus Ireland director of advocacy Mike Allen said there were a number of factors behind the trends.

“It is likely that many of those entering homelessness are also coming from the private rental market, indicating that there is to an extent a ‘revolving door’ effect trapping at-risk people between unstable rentals and emergency accommodation,” he said.

“However, particularly during the Covid-19 period, family breakdowns and people having to give up informal housing arrangements, such as sofa-surfers, no doubt account for a proportion of it too.

“There is still a huge shortage of one-bed apartments in Ireland, which would be the preferred accommodation for many of the single adults who are becoming trapped in this system.”

Children and families

The figures from the Department of Housing show that the number of homeless children decreased by one child, leaving a total of 2,326 children experiencing homelessness in January.

According to the Simon Communities of Ireland, the total number experiencing homelessness included 966 families, representing a 40 per cent fall on pre-pandemic levels in January 2020.

“While we very much welcome the fall in family homelessness, it is deeply concerning that single person homelessness continues to rise,” Wayne Stanley, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities of Ireland said.

“A chronic, structural lack of appropriate, affordable housing supply continues to drive homelessness for single people.”

This number doesn’t include rough sleepers, families in women’s aid units, people in Direct Provision

Mr Stanley voiced concern regarding the potential lifting of the current moratorium on evictions in April, which was echoed by Inner City Helping Homeless CEO Anthony Flynn.

“We are disappointed but not surprised to see the increase in the number of people that are homeless across the State in January due to the seasonal drop over the Christmas period,” Mr Flynn said.

“We are also aware that the true figure is a lot higher than 8,200 as this number doesn’t include rough sleepers, families in women’s aid units, people in Direct Provision and people that are couch surfing.

“We predict further increases in the second part of year due to the ban on evictions in place due to Covid-19 and we have grave concerns over the quality and on site supports in the increasing number of privately operated hostels across the country.”

Depaul CEO David Carroll also described the rise in single people experiencing homelessness as “particularly worrying”.

“The slight increase in people experiencing homelessness is concerning given the fact that we are still in the midst of Level 5 restrictions. It is imperative that we prevent homelessness at this time,” he said.

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