Belfast Telegraph

Homelessness among men rises while overall numbers fall

Homelessness has been at unprecedented levels but official reports are now recording slight falls in those affected.

The number of men becoming homeless increased over Christmas, a leading homeless charity has warned.

Official figures revealed a drop in the total number of people in emergency accommodation at the end of last year.

But the report also showed the number of homeless men increased by 64 to 3,191 in the last week of December.

Depaul Ireland chief executive Kerry Anthony said the rise highlighted the need to move away from one-night only accommodation and provide more long-term shelter options.

“An emergency one-night only bed should not be what a homeless person aspires to, an uncertain bed you can only access between the time of 6pm and 10am is not enough,” Ms Anthony said.

“We need to do better for homeless adults.”

Figures published by the Department of Housing showed more than 8,500 people were homeless and in some form of temporary accommodation from December 25-31.

The total was down compared with 8,800 the previous month.

The report said 270 people secured permanent accommodation, officially exiting homelessness in December.

There were also 122 fewer homeless families, but in total, 3,079 children and 1,408 families were among those in emergency shelters, family hubs, hostels, B&Bs and hotels.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said progress on the long-running and unprecedented crisis was being made.

But he conceded the issue would continue to be a challenge in 2018.

“Significantly fewer children were in emergency arrangements during December compared to the previous month,” the minister said.

“Obviously we still have more work to do to help children and families in to secure homes, but this is good progress for those families who were accommodated during the month of December.”

Sinn Fein housing spokesman Eoin O Broin said he welcomed the drop in the homeless figures, but highlighted that thousands of children are still in emergency accommodation.

“I sincerely hope that these figures reflect a downward trend and not a one-off Christmas dip as families and friends accommodate loved ones over the festive period,” Mr O Broin said.

“To turn this one-month drop into a genuine trend the minister must do more to tackle the crisis.”

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