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Number of homeless continues to fall

Numbers have dwindled since the coronavirus outbreak.


Tents outside Dublin City Council Offices (Brian Lawless/PA)

Tents outside Dublin City Council Offices (Brian Lawless/PA)

Tents outside Dublin City Council Offices (Brian Lawless/PA)

The number of homeless people is continuing to fall with a total of 9,335 homeless individuals, according to figures released by the Department of Housing.

The report for April shows that there were 572 fewer people in emergency accommodation compared to March.

There were 290 fewer adults, 282 fewer dependants and 179 fewer families in emergency accommodation in April.

The number of homeless people has been falling since the outbreak of Covid-19.

In March, housing minister Eoghan Murphy announced a temporary ban on evictions and a pause on rent increases for an initial period of three months while the Covid-19 crisis continued.

Mr Murphy said the figures for April show “significantly fewer” families and individuals in emergency accommodation than the previous month and fewer than the last two years.

“The work being carried out by the staff of the DRHE (Dublin Region Homeless Executive) in Parkgate Street over the last number of weeks has been a significant factor combined with the efforts of our partner organisations across the country,” Mr Murphy said in a statement.

“Despite the current challenges posed by Covid-19 we have been able to consistently move families out of emergency accommodation into secure long-term homes.

“The reduction in the homeless numbers has been achieved due to a significant number of households moving from emergency accommodation to tenancies.

“Individuals and families accommodated in short-term accommodation secured in recent weeks, as part of the response to Covid-19, continue to be included in the homeless figures.

“There is also a huge effort ongoing to keep all those in emergency accommodation safe and we continue to work with the HSE and all those providing services at this difficult time.

“This has included providing significant additional accommodation to allow for the necessary social distancing in emergency accommodation and to allow for the ‘cocooning’ of homeless individuals identified as vulnerable due to their health needs.”

The Quarterly Report from the housing department also shows a 12% increase in exits from homelessness for the first quarter of this year.

There are widespread concerns of the impact on social housing construction after sites were shut down in March.

While some have reopened, Mr Murphy said he does not know the “full extent” of the effect of Covid-19 on construction.

“We have been able to get key social housing sites back up and running for delivery for families in 2020,” he added.

Focus Ireland welcomed the fall in homeless numbers, adding that it helped 214 children in 109 households across the country to secure a home in April.

However, the charity warned that the lifting of temporary prevention measures – including a rent freeze and ban on evictions – could result in a new surge in homelessness.

Focus Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan said: “During the Covid-19 emergency, our staff are continuing to provide vital services to support thousands of people who are homeless right across the country.

“Since the lockdown began we have been trying to ensure that families are protected from the virus and from the stresses caused by the lockdown, and we have been helping them find a new home.

“The fact there have been no homeless deaths due to Covid-19 is an incredible achievement when compared to the tragic situation in other countries across Europe.

“Focus Ireland and our partners who include local authorities, Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and the HSE should be very proud and have shown the effectiveness of collaboration.”