Homelessness in Ireland hits new high as figures show increase in England and across Europe

A photo of a homeless man in Dublin sleeping on a public bench.
Bryan Wall

The number of homeless people in Ireland has risen again as homeless figures have increased across most of Europe. Irish figures for March had previously recorded 10,305 people as being homeless. But now, the latest numbers for April show an increase of the amount of homeless people to 10,378.

The department of housing, planning, and local government released the monthly statistics on 29 May.

The figures

The new figures revealed that Dublin is the worst affected area in the country with 4,401 adults homeless. According to the report, this means that Dublin accounts for 67% of all homeless adults in the country. As Irish NGO Focus Ireland points out, these figures do not include the ‘hidden homeless’, women and children in domestic violence refuges or people who are sleeping rough.

Separately, there are now 3,794 children who are also homeless. Focus Ireland says that some young people are especially vulnerable to becoming homeless. It stated that:

Young people who grew up in care often lack a network of family support and may not have the skills to [manage] independent living. Young people who are unemployed only receive a reduced rate of social welfare payment.

And it argued that this means “it can be difficult to find accommodation, resulting in destitution for many”.

Failing to act

Commenting on the figures, housing minister Eoghan Murphy claimed “we are seeing some positive results arising from the prevention work”. But the number of homeless people increased by 73 from March to April. Ireland also has a continuing housing crisis.

Eoin Ó Broin of Sinn Féin said the government is “failing” people. Going further, he argued that:

We need to see radical change in policy direction. Unfortunately, I do not believe that this Minister or this government has any real interest in changing course.

A continent-wide problem

But Ireland is not alone when it comes to a rise in homelessness. In 2018, the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA) published a report showing that homelessness is increasing across most of Europe. The NGO’s report noted a 169% increase in people sleeping rough in England from 2010 to 2017.

In Germany it found that 860,000 people were homeless — an increase of 150% between 2014 and 2016. And in Spain it revealed a 20.5% increase in the average amount of people using emergency shelters from 2014 to 2016.

The report detailed that only Finland and Norway have seen a drop in the numbers of homeless people.

Featured image via Flickr – William Murphy

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