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More than 6,100 people homeless at end of April, new figures show

Published 23/05/2016

Focus Ireland warned that the risk of families being forced to sleep rough is starting to re-emerge
Focus Ireland warned that the risk of families being forced to sleep rough is starting to re-emerge

More than 6,100 men, women and children were homeless at the end of April, a report on the unprecedented crisis has revealed.

While leading charity Focus Ireland said another 74 families lost their home in Dublin, the latest Government statistics showed another dramatic increase in the amount of people forced into two and three star hotels, B&Bs, hostels and other emergency accommodation.

It showed 4,068 adults were homeless in late April, not counting the scores of rough sleepers, and 2,806 of them are in Dublin.

Among the record homelessness figures are 2,121 children who found themselves without a home.

Focus Ireland warned that the risk of families being forced to sleep rough is starting to re-emerge as the numbers hit previously unseen levels and demand for emergency accommodation outstrips hotel rooms.

Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said staff who work alongside the Peter McVerry Trust are increasingly seeing families late into the evening with nowhere to go.

"This situation puts added stress on parents and children who are already in crisis. We are again at a point where it will just take one more thing to go wrong before a family is left with no shelter for the night," he said.

The figures are up from the previous records of more than 5,900 people classed homeless in March - 3,969 adults and 1,944 children.

Focus Ireland is working with the Dublin Region Homeless Executive to find solutions but it called on the new Government needs to address the "intolerable situation".

"There comes a point where there are no more B&Bs and no more hotel rooms," Mr Allen said.

"Unless it takes radical measures to prevent families losing their homes in the first place, the Government will either have to commandeer hotel rooms or face families being forced to sleep in currently unthinkable situations."

According to the report published on the Department of the Environment website, 888 families in Dublin were homeless in late April, and 588 of them were single parent families.

The crisis is not confined to the capital with 217 people homeless in Cork, 197 in Limerick, 133 in Galway, 112 in Kildare and 91 in Waterford.

The figures also showed 80 people over 65 were homeless and 664 people aged between 18 and 24.

Pat Doyle, chief executive of the Peter McVerry Trust, said the responsibility for the growing homelessness lies with Government departments - Social Protection, Children and Youth Affairs, Justice, Health and Finance.

"These Departments need to finally step up, and play a critical role in allowing people to fall through the net into homelessness," he said.

"The reality is that hundreds of additional people are becoming homeless every month because a wide range of departments are failing to protect vulnerable people.

"It is completely unacceptable that the Department of Social Protection refuses to sign off on a significant increase in rent supplement rates of a few hundred euro per month yet believes it acceptable for another Government department to spend thousands per month accommodating that same household."

The trust also called on the Government to set up a compulsory purchase scheme of vacant private properties.

"It is intolerable that we should have thousands of empty homes across our cities and towns at a time when we are stretched to breaking point trying to provide shelters for individuals, couples and families," he said.

And the trust also called for more modular homes to be built.

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