Homeless Quarterly Progress Report for Quarter 1 & Monthly Homeless Report for March 2021

The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, has today (30 April 2021) published the Monthly Homeless Report for March and the Homeless Quarterly Progress Report for the first quarter of 2021.

The Quarterly Progress Report is prepared by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, based on quarterly performance reports submitted by the nine regional lead authorities responsible for the administration of homeless services at local level.

The number of individuals presenting to homeless services and the number of people accessing emergency accommodation continued to decline in the first quarter of 2021, following a trend first established in fourth quarter of 2019.  The March report confirms that there were 8,060 individuals accessing emergency accommodation, a decrease of 1,847 individuals (18.6%) on the 9,907 total recorded one year previously.  This is the lowest number of homeless individuals recorded since June 2017.

The decrease in family homelessness was more pronounced. The year on year position is that March 2021 shows a decrease of 575 families (38.6%) on the 1,488 total recorded in March 2020.  This represents the lowest number of families in emergency accommodation since March 2016.

The Quarterly Progress Report shows that 1,364 adults and their dependants exited from emergency accommodation or were prevented from entering into emergency accommodation in the first quarter of 2021.  All these exits were to homes with tenancies.  Viewed in the context of falling homeless numbers, the number of exits from homelessness remained high in the current quarter compared to the exits achieved previously.

The quarterly performance report also records the number of families who are prevented from entering emergency accommodation by way of a tenancy being created, and the number of families exiting from emergency accommodation in the Dublin Region.  The report shows that 60% of families presenting to homeless services in the first quarter of 2021 were prevented from having to enter emergency accommodation through a tenancy having been created.

Family presentations to homelessness in the Dublin region in the first quarter of 2021 were down 18% on the corresponding period in 2020.  The number of families entering emergency accommodation fell over the same period, by 29%.  In the first quarter of 2021, 236 families exited from emergency accommodation arrangements in Dublin into homes.  There were 422 dependants in these families.

Monthly Homeless Report

The monthly report for March 2021, which is also published today, indicates that the total number of homeless individuals including dependants fell from 8,238 in February to 8,060 in March, a decrease of 178 (2.2%).

Of the homeless adults recorded in March, 4,560 (77.4%) are single adults (adults who are not part of a family unit).  This is a decrease of 30 on the number of single adults recorded the previous month.

There were 913 families in emergency accommodation during the March 2021 survey, a decrease of 22 on the 935 recorded in February.  This is the lowest number of families in emergency accommodation in five years, since March 2016.

A total of 2,166 dependants, associated with these families, were in emergency accommodation, a decrease of 98 on the 2,264 recorded in February.  This is the lowest number of dependants recorded since April 2016.  The year on year position is that March 2021 shows a decrease of 1,189 (35.4%) dependants on the 3,355 recorded in March 2020.

Housing First provides homeless people with high support needs with housing and the wraparound supports required to maintain a tenancy.  The programme delivered 57 tenancies in quarter one of 2021, spread throughout each of the nine homeless regions.  There are now 539 active Housing First tenancies nationwide.

Commenting on the details contained in the reports published today, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD said:

“There has been a very welcome trend evident in falling homeless numbers and the Progress Report for the first quarter of 2021 confirms this as having continued.  Family homelessness is at its lowest level for five years and we are now witnessing the lowest number of dependants in emergency accommodation since April 2016. In Dublin we have seen an 80% reduction in the number of families accommodated in commercial hotels in the past year – a most welcome decrease.

“Despite the decrease however, the numbers of people experiencing homelessness is still a major cause of concern to me. Over the last year substantial progress has continued in prevention work by supporting families and individuals at risk of homelessness and reducing the overall numbers accessing emergency accommodation, this must continue in earnest.

“The various protections introduced in the rental market linked to the national Covid-19 response have contributed to the reduction in homelessness, but the reduced numbers are also the result of significant work and investment that has been undertaken and I want to thank our NGOs and housing delivery partners in this regard.

“With the phased easing of public health restrictions now underway, the blanket moratorium on evictions has been replaced by more targeted protections for those most impacted by the pandemic and who need them. My Department is working very closely with local authorities and with tenancy protection services to ensure that all resources are brought to bear in guarding against any potential rise in homelessness we may see.

“Local authorities and voluntary organisations have contributed hugely to addressing homelessness at a time when they have been dealing with other major challenges.  The Government has taken a lead role in providing investment and support, and this will continue in the period ahead.

“I want to be cautious as we look towards the future in seeking to maintain the gains we have made.  While there has been strong progress, there is a lot of work to do in increasing the supply of housing and the delivery of social and affordable homes.  The investment is in place, and we are prioritising this work for the remainder of 2021 and beyond.

“The reports published today show the important progress being made in the Housing First programme which supports those with the most complex needs. There are now 539 former rough sleepers and former long term users of emergency accommodation living in their own homes, with all the necessary support in place, by the end of the year the target of 663 will have been reached with an extended and expanded scheme announced later this year,” concluded Minister O’Brien.