Irshadgul News report,
According to housing minister Darragh O’Brien, the number of people recorded as homeless every month is “levelling down”.
The minister made the comments after a sixth month in a row of record-high homelessness figures – a total of 11,632 people were lodged in emergency accommodation in December, including 3,442 children.
This largely excludes sleepers and lack of capacity has turned people away. It is the first time since the Department for Housing figures were first published in 2014 that the number of homeless in December has increased, as many people stay with families over the Christmas period.
It also comes amid Mr O’Brien’s winter eviction ban, which is in place from November to the end of March.
There have been calls for the moratorium to be extended further, with fears that there could be a further surge in homelessness in April if it expires.
Speaking in Dublin on Monday, Mr O’Brien said there had been a “slight” increase in new submissions in December, but admitted the number of homeless was much higher.
“We are seeing a decrease in the number of homeless. It’s still very high, and I want to see those numbers come down because behind all those numbers are people, families, children, many of whom I meet.
“But there are complexities to the homelessness situation at the moment. We brought in very important new protections around the eviction ban over the winter to give us room to deliver more properties.
“But I am optimistic for this year, I am optimistic with respect to new housing delivery – even with respect to the supply chain, cost inflation and all those challenges but we are headed in the right direction.”
The minister said: “Last December we had a decrease. Last month there was a specific issue about homelessness along with new submissions, we saw a decrease in family homelessness, and that is a positive thing.
“Still the largest group of those presenting to homelessness services are single men. And we need to ensure more suitable properties are available to them by providing more one-bedroom apartments.
“We are seeing a leveling off, what I would like to see now is a reduction, and we will do everything possible to make sure we can reduce that number further.
“We are seeing people leaving homelessness on one end, but we are seeing more people entering it at the moment. And that is something that remains a challenge but we will overcome it.”
Mr O’Brien said the way to tackle homelessness was with supply, and said the government’s plan was to deliver the “highest amount of social housing” in half a century.
It comes after missing by a third its target of delivering 9,000 social homes last year, although it exceeded its overall target of building 24,600 new ones in 2022.
“To fundamentally address this, we need to get housing supply up so people can move from homelessness to safe and secure homes,” the minister said.
“And that is why last week’s figures in relation to housing completion – just under 30,000 (homes) – were really important. Because within this we are going to see the largest amount of social homes being delivered in almost 50 years And you don’t change that within a year of Housing for All.”
Homelessness in Ireland goes beyond crisis…
When asked about his position as the Housing Minister, he said that he has faith in himself and it is not about him. “It’s not about me, it’s not about me. It’s about the government having a strong strategy that’s fully funded, which it is, and it’s really taking hold now.
“We have a good pipeline for this year, (but) this year will not be without its challenges,” he said.