The number of families in emergency accommodation in Ireland has jumped by 349% over the last five years, research has found.
Analysis of the State’s housing crisis shows that as of December last year, there were 1,548 families in emergency accommodation compared to just over 300 families in June 2014.
Homeless charity Focus Ireland and the School of Social Work and Social Policy at Trinity College Dublin have published a unique picture of the extent of homelessness in Ireland.
The publication, Focus on Homelessness, extracts data from over 500 different Government reports to track 17 key indicators of homelessness since the start of the current crisis.
Since 2014, the Department of Housing has published data compiled by local authorities across the country showing the number of people living in emergency accommodation each month.
This data charts the rise of homelessness during the last five years of the crisis.
Research from the data found that the number of women in emergency accommodation has been growing faster than men over the past six years, a trend which is partly explained by the growth in family homelessness.
The report also shows that outside of Dublin, the number of households in emergency accommodation has increased by 128% since 2014 and climbed above 2,000 for the first time in 2019
The report stated: “Presenting the scale of homelessness in terms of the number of households affected is important because solutions to homelessness come in terms of homes, and so it gives the clearest indication of the number of dwellings which are required to meet the needs of those households in emergency accommodation.”
On average, people in emergency accommodation tend to be younger than the general population, with the 25-44 age group making up the majority of the number of adults in emergency accommodation at around 60%.
Half of Ireland’s overall population are under 45, while that group comprises three quarters of those in emergency accommodation.
Although the age group 18-24 make up only 12% of all people who are in emergency accommodation, young people have the highest rate of homelessness compared to the other age groups, based on Census 2016.
The research found that all age groups have seen a rise in homelessness over the past six years – the largest rise has been among 45-64 year olds, with a 231% increase since June 2014.
Some 57% of families in emergency accommodation are one-parent families, compared to 24% of all families in Ireland.
Five families presented as homeless in the Dublin region in January 2013, however since then, an average of 63 families have become homeless every month and there have been ten individual months in which over 100 families became homeless.
There is an established seasonal pattern of a drop in family homelessness each December, with homeless families leaving emergency accommodation to stay temporarily with friends or extended family for Christmas.
The report said this is usually followed by a sharp rise in January and February as these families enter emergency accommodation again.
The majority of Ireland’s homeless children are in Dublin, with around three quarters of all children in emergency accommodation living in the capital.
There were 6,309 adults in emergency accommodation as of December 2019, an increase of 165% on June 2014. Around two thirds (68%) of these adults are in the Dublin region.
Focus Ireland director of advocacy and co-author, Mike Allen said: “In order to end any crisis it is vital to fully understand the situation.
“This unique collaboration with the School of Social Work and Social Policy at Trinity College Dublin clearly informs our work with the State to refine our services and to also develop policy recommendations that – if acted upon by Government – would help to greatly reduce the number of people becoming homeless.”
There are three types of emergency accommodation reported in the monthly reports.
Private Emergency Accommodation (PEA) includes hotels, B & Bs and other residential facilities that are privately owned and are being used on an emergency basis.
Supported Temporary Accommodation (STA) is emergency accommodation, primarily congregate shelters and family hubs.
Temporary Emergency Accommodation (TEA) is the smallest category and includes emergency accommodation with no (or minimal) supports, TEAs are operated both by NGOs and private operators.
The number of people in PEA in Ireland is almost four times higher in 2019 than in 2014. The number of people in STA has increased by 125% over this period whereas TEA is the smallest group, and has further decreased by 25% since 2014.