Belfast Telegraph

Homeless number tops 9,000 with more than third children

Focus Ireland said its records show that one child became homeless every three and a half hours in January.

More than 9,000 people are officially recorded as homeless, including 3,267 children.

The latest figures for the unprecedented crisis show 1,517 families are being housed in hotels, hostels, B&Bs and hubs with close to 1,200 of them in Dublin alone.

Eoghan Murphy, Minister for Housing, Planning & Local Government, defended the increasing numbers amid fierce criticism from campaigners.

“While no increase in the number of people who are experiencing homelessness is welcome, there is no doubt that rough sleepers are better off in emergency services receiving the necessary supports and assistance,” he said.

Homelessness charity Focus Ireland said one in three homeless families have been in emergency accommodations for more than a year.

Mr Murphy said some of the rise in homeless numbers in January had been anticipated as more families are being moved in hubs in the capital.

He also said the number of rough sleepers who are being brought into accommodation increased at the start of the year as the number of available beds grew.

In Dublin alone there are 2,509 children officially recorded as homeless.

But the numbers published by Mr Murphy’s department do not take into account the so-called hidden homeless where adults move back into their parents’ home after having to leave a rented property.

Pat Doyle, chief executive of the Peter McVerry Trust, said the increases are unacceptable.

The Government is neither delivering new homes nor protecting families in the existing homes they have Mike Allen, Focus Ireland

“The onus is on everyone to work together to deliver the solutions that we know need to be put in place. That has to include faster delivery of social and affordable housing which is at the core of an effective response to homelessness,” Mr Doyle said.

Focus Ireland’s director of advocacy Mike Allen said the Government is dramatically failing to do enough to ease the crisis.

The charity helped more than 700 families to escape homelessness last year.

“The Government admits that hubs are only a ‘first response’ but there is still no sign of them delivering a second, substantive response which is adequate to the crisis we are facing,” Mr Allen said.

“Families need homes not more hubs, and the Government is neither delivering new homes nor protecting families in the existing homes they have.”

Focus Ireland also called for immediate action by the Government to protect tenants in the properties that are to be sold off by Permanent TSB to vulture funds.

It’s a moral shame that there are so many children forced to live in emergency accommodation Barry Cowen, Fianna Fail housing spokesman

The Government is not going to oppose proposed new laws for tighter regulation of these international investors by the Central Bank.

Fianna Fail’s spokesman on housing Barry Cowen said: “It’s a moral shame that there are so many children forced to live in emergency accommodation.

“It’s been highlighted time and time again that this situation is having a detrimental impact on children’s personal development.”

Sinn Fein’s Eoin O Broin said: “The minister’s vain attempts to spin his way out of his own failure are deeply disappointing. There is no good news in today’s figures and Government needs to accept what it is doing is not working.”

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