Minister Murphy’s Statement on
Febraury homeless figures

Mr. Eoghan Murphy TD, Minister for Housing, Planning & Local Government, today (28 March 2018) published his Department’s February Homelessness Report. The report, based on data provided by housing authorities, captures details of individuals accessing State-funded emergency accommodation arrangements that are overseen by housing authorities.

A decrease of 84 in the number of homeless single adults was recorded in February 2018, while the number of families in emergency accommodation increased by 222 during the same month.

National Figures February 2018
Homeless Adults 6,052
Homeless Families 1,739*
Dependents 3,755

*Adults associated with these families are included in the 6,052 figure

Commenting on the figures Minister Murphy said:

“The decrease in the number of adults who are homeless is very welcome. I want to thank our new National Director of Housing First for hitting the ground running.

However, this latest report for February repeats what we saw in January and would seem to indicate a very worrying trend since the beginning of the year in relation to the number of families presenting to our homeless services.

Following the January report I asked the Dublin Region Homeless Executive for a report on new issues that they informed me had arisen in the course of their outreach work. The DRHE has recently written to me and their report is nearing completion; it is likely that additional policy responses will be needed to address these new trends. I have also asked the new Inter-Agency group to expedite its report regarding better coordination of government resources. Both these reports will come in April and we will move swiftly to implement any recommendations from them.

Tackling homelessness is a priority for this Government. My priority as Minister in the first instance is to get people off the streets and to get children out of hotels.

Recent indicators suggest that the number of people sleeping rough is significantly down on what it was last year.  The Dublin Region Homeless Executive undertook a count of rough sleepers last night and while they have not yet verified all of the data, it appears the numbers are down approximately 50% on the count undertaken last November, when the figure stood at 184.  And while the number of families in emergency accommodation increased again last month, in the Dublin area, where there were 138 additional families, the numbers accommodated in hotels only increased by 20.

Family Hubs are the preferred first response and we have a significant amount of new family places becoming available in the coming months. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of exit teams, 2080 families left hotels last year, the majority into homes not hubs. So this is a constant piece of work being done by our support teams.

I know that the crisis we have in homelessness is very distressing but I hope people understand that every day a huge amount of work is being put in by our teams to both prevent people from entering emergency accommodation and to exit people into sustainable tenancies as quickly as possible. They are doing incredible work and the Government will continue to make all necessary resources available to them.

In January and February of this year, 153 families were prevented from becoming homeless, and 132 families exited emergency accommodation. That’s almost 300 families who are not homeless today as a result of the efforts of our teams in my Department, the DRHE and our partner NGOs. And, this was achieved while also reducing the number of adults in homelessness in February and putting in place a huge response to Storm Emma that brought more than 100 people off the streets into shelter.  In 2017, 4,729 individuals exited homelessness, which is a 54% increase on the previous year.

Emergency response is only one aspect, and I am of course committed to addressing the underlying causes of homelessness, improving our prevention efforts, and dramatically increasing housing supply.

We know that we are going to continue to face a serious challenge with people presenting to our homeless services until significantly more homes are built. Rebuilding Ireland is a six year programme to bring our housing sector back to a stable state but we are in fact ahead of our targets meaning we will see sustainable progress on the homeless front as new homes are delivered. Last year alone saw permission granted for more than 20,000 new homes, up 27% on the previous year.

The public will be aware that people sleeping rough was a particular focus during recent severe weather episodes, not just related to storm Emma. I want to again thank the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, local authorities, the Peter McVerry Trust and our other partner NGOs for their efforts and hard work during these events. The collaborative work by everyone involved meant that lives were saved.

Read the report in full here