Homelessness is NOT normal

Posted on Wednesday, 9 January 2019
emergency accomm

Ireland’s homelessness crisis continues to worsen.  In November 2018, there were 9,968 homeless people listed in Ireland. The number of homeless adults increased by 126 per cent since 2014 (from 2,720 to 6,157), with the number of homeless children increasing by 329 per cent (from 887 to 3,811), and homeless families increasing by 336 per cent (from 396 to 1,728) in the same period (Chart 1). 

Although still in double-digits, the rate of increase in homelessness across all groups was lowest in the period 2017 to 2018, however this could, at least in part, be attributed to the directive circulated by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government last year to exclude certain families previously included in the homelessness data by the local authorities.  These families are temporarily housed in local authority owned accommodation, rather than hotels or B&Bs, as a cost saving measure for the local authorities, however while their need for permanent housing is the same as the 1,728 families included in the official homeless figures, their status for the purpose of data collection, and subsequent policy development, has changed.

The most recent rough sleeper count, taken in Winter (November) 2018, confirmed 156 persons sleeping rough on the night of the count, a decrease of 15 per cent on the previous Winter and over 70 per cent more than Winter 2015. After taking this number into account, the total number of people in need of emergency services in November 2018 (that is, 10,124) increased by 42 per cent since November 2016, and that is without considering the number of hidden homeless – those staying with friends and family or living in squats. 

In the breakdown of Specific Accommodation Requirements contained in the Summary of Social Housing Needs Assessments, the number of households reporting ‘Household member(s) is homeless’ increased from 4,765 (5.6 per cent of the total) in 2017 to 5,329 (7.4 per cent of the total in 2018), an increase of 12 per cent overall.  Even with the significant decrease in official numbers in need of social housing, the homelessness crisis is undeniable and must be addressed.