That over 10,500 men, women and children will be forced to spend this Christmas in emergency accommodation is shameful, says charity
The Simon Communities of Ireland have said that new figures showing a record number of people in emergency accommodation in October underlines the need for urgent action on homelessness as winter sets in.
A total of 10,514 men, women and children were in emergency accommodation during the week of October 21 to 27, according to the latest figures by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. This represents an increase of 117 people in emergency accommodation since September, and is the fourth consecutive month in which the numbers have risen. The new figures show:
- 10,514 men, women and children are now in emergency accommodation, an overall increase of 8.1% since October 2018, when the figure was 9,724.
- 4,204 single adults are now in emergency accommodation, an overall increase of 15.8% since October 2018, when the figure was 3,631.
- 6,688 adults in total are now in emergency accommodation, an overall increase of 11.5% since October 2018, when the figure was 5,999.
- 1,733 families are living in emergency accommodation, an increase of 24 from October 2018, when the figure was 1,709 families.
Wayne Stanley, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities, said that the Government must take action to ensure that the thousands facing into Christmas in homelessness and those living with housing insecurity are given hope. There is a need for a clear commitment, backed up by action, that the upwards trend in homelessness will not continue in 2020.
“The figures released today show at least 10,514 people in Ireland, including 3,826 children, are now trying to live in extremely stressful and trying circumstances, without a place to call home. And it’s important to remember that while indicative of the crisis, these numbers do not truly capture its full scale. They do not include; rough sleepers and those in squats, people in direct provision and women’s shelters, and the ‘hidden homeless’ who have no home of their own.
“There is a lot of good work and collaboration between NGO’s, local authorities and government departments on the ground, and we recognise the fact that there has been a welcome decline in family and child homelessness in October, particularly in Dublin. We also note the encouraging drop in the number of rough sleepers recorded in the Official Winter Rough Sleeper Count for the Dublin Region in November. However, these declines, while very welcome, are hard to claim as successes in the context of ever-growing numbers. We see the number of homeless families outside Dublin continue to grow, as does the number of homeless single adults all over the country.
“We know that many find themselves in this position due to a lack of affordable and secure accommodation. This is the case in both rural and urban communities around the country. In November, two Oireachtas committees released reports calling for the levels of social and affordable housing to be increased to prevent instances of family homelessness . Such actions are clearly necessary in the context of these record numbers. At this stage, the Government must seriously look at revising the targets for social housing included in the Rebuilding Ireland programme, and act to improve levels of availability of suitable and secure accommodation for those currently experiencing homelessness.
“As we face into Christmas, we must not allow ourselves to become immune to the continuing worsening of the housing and homelessness crisis. We need to remember that this homelessness and housing crisis is not a normal situation, and should not be seen as acceptable on any level.”
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About Simon Communities
The Simon Communities support over 13,000 men, women and children. We have 50 years of experience providing homeless, housing and treatment services to people facing the trauma and stress of homelessness. We are a network of independent Communities based in Cork, Dublin, Dundalk, Galway, the Midlands, the Mid West, the North West and the South East, responding to local needs and supported by a National Office in the areas of policy, research, communications and best practice. We share common values and ethos in tackling homelessness and, informed by our grassroots services, we campaign for more effective policies and legislation regionally, nationally and at European level. Whatever the issue, Simon’s door is always open for as long as we are needed. For more information, please visit www.simon.ie.
- Homelessness prevention, tenancy sustainment and resettlement.
- Street outreach, emergency accommodation and harm reduction.
- Housing with support and Housing First services.
- Homeless specific health and wellbeing services (counselling; addiction treatment and recovery; and mental health supports).
- Personal development, education, training and employment services.
- Food banks, drop-in centres and soup runs.