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Aug. 4, 2017, 7:48 p.m.
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The number of homeless children and adults living in emergency accommodation rose again in June. According to the Department of Housing, 1,365 families were in homeless accommodation, 53 more than in May. The number of homeless children was more than 30 per cent higher than a year earlier.
The department recorded 7,941 homeless people in emergency accommodation in June: 5,046 adults and 2,895 children. Of those, 124 adults and 118 children had become homeless that month. It was the first time the number of homeless adults had passed 5,000; the figure had increased from 4,922 in May.
The Department of Housing said progress has been made in moving families out of hotel and bed-and-breakfast accommodation. Six hundred and thirty-eight people were in this kind of emergency accommodation in June, a fall of 232 since March. But the overall figure shows an increase in the number of people in need of housing support.
The department said increasing the supply of homes was the long-term solution to homelessness. It said the Rebuilding Ireland plan was designed to accelerate all types of housing – particularly social housing, with 47,000 homes by 2021. It said housing authorities helped more than 900 people make “sustainable exits from homelessness” in the first quarter of the year.
The Peter McVerry Trust said it is deeply concerned by the worsening homelessness. “This is unacceptable and is a rate which homeless services cannot hope to keep pace with. People in homelessness need housing, and they need it yesterday,” said Francis Doherty of the homelessness charity.
“We urgently need to arrive at a point where the figure begins to decrease or at the very least stabilise. The rising number of people in homelessness puts huge pressure on charities to increase their emergency-accommodation provision in what are very challenging circumstances at present.”
Mr Doherty said the charity was particularly concerned that almost half of homeless people are 24 or under.
“Specific initiatives promised in Rebuilding Ireland for ring-fenced housing and associated funding for 18- to 24-year-olds has not yet materialised almost a year later. The reduced rates of social welfare are also leading to increases in the number of 18- to 24-year-olds in homelessness who are effectively trapped in homeless services.”
Mr Doherty said the Government must help children and young people affected by homelessness to prevent it damaging them as they get older.
Barnardos said it was disturbed that the Government’s homelessness figures were continuing to rise. June Tinsley of the children’s charity said that although the number of families being accommodated in hotels and B&Bs since March had fallen, little progress had been made.
“In May 647 families were in such accommodation, and in June this figure had fallen to 638. This demonstrates that the number of families entering homelessness remains higher than those exiting. A net decrease of just nine families is extremely disappointing and disheartening.”