North West Simon Community is calling for new measures to prevent homelessness in advance of any decision to end the current moratorium on evictions, as the most recent homeless figures show that the traditional Christmas break for homelessness did not materialise in the North West last month.
The figures had tended to drop in the month of December during the Christmas period, as shown in the table below, but figures increased to the second highest month of the year for 2022.
2022 saw the highest increase in homelessness in the North West over the last six year, rising from 87 in January to 141 by December, with the figure peaking in July at 149.
The latest Monthly Homelessness Report shows that 141 individuals including 27 child dependents were provided with Local Authority-managed emergency accommodation in counties Donegal, Leitrim, and Sligo, during the Week of 19-25 December 2022. The 107 homeless households provided with emergency accommodation included 95 single adults and 12 families, comprised of 19 adults and 27 children.
The Monthly Homeless Reports published by Government relate only to households provided with emergency accommodation by the local authorities. They do not include households frequently described as the “hidden homeless”. People and families that are sleeping rough, living in cars and tents, sofa surfing, escaping domestic violence in refuges, sharing with parents, family, and friends, and/or living in houses unfit for habitation.
Noel Daly, CEO of North West Simon Community explained that “we usually see a trend in December where the number of people depending on emergency homeless accommodation falls as family and friends offer respite over the Christmas period. This time last year North West Simon Community welcomed a 21% reduction in the number of people homeless in December when compared to the previous month.
“The fact that this break did not occur isn’t particularly surprising with a high incidence of respiratory illnesses, warnings of increased risk of Covid infection, and significant increases in the cost of living, an extra mouth or mouths to feed obviously creates greater challenges. More concerning than the lack of a Christmas break is the continual increase in the numbers of people experiencing homelessness year on year.
“Since 2016, the average number of people provided with emergency accommodation has almost trebled – from 43 people in 2016, to 88 people in 2021, homelessness in the North West has increased by more than 27% in the past year to an average of 112 in emergency accommodation each week in 2022.
Noel Daly says that in the coming weeks, we need the Government to look again at the options available to prevent homelessness and to support people to move on from homelessness. The Government must plan for the extension of the moratorium on evictions while continuing to work on delivering homes to ensure that the extension is not needed.
“Simon Communities of Ireland is asking Government to again to look at the Simon Homeless Prevention Bill and continue to encourage and resource Local Authorities to expand the tenant in situ scheme. We want Local Authorities to review the allocation of public housing to those in homelessness with a view to supporting more families and individuals to move on from homelessness. The potential stock of vacant properties in the State needs to be unlocked, and in the medium term, innovations like modular building – employed throughout Europe – need to be rolled out here at scale.”