The number of people entering homelessness in the northwest has risen 56% since last April.
Homelessness hit a record high again last month as 12,259 people entered emergency accommodation nationwide.
Local authorities in the North West region recorded a small decrease in homelessness, with 147 individuals in emergency accommodation in counties Donegal, Leitrim, and Sligo.
Noel Daly, CEO of North West Simon Community, has called for swift action.
“The total number of homeless in the North West last month thankfully represents a slight reduction in homelessness when compared to the 151 homeless last month, but the number of homeless is still 56% higher year on year when compared to the 94 people officially homeless in April 2022,” he said.
Noel Daly points out that the Monthly Homeless Reports published by the Government relate only to individuals and families provided with emergency accommodation by the local authorities. They do not include households frequently described as the “hidden homeless”. People and families sleeping rough, living in cars and tents, sofa surfing, escaping domestic violence, sharing with parents, family, and friends, and/or living in houses unfit for habitation.
The latest figures from the Department of Housing reveal that Donegal County Council’s expenditure on emergency homeless accommodation was 353% higher last month, rising from €77,171 in 2021 to €349,815 in 2022.
In stark contrast to the increased payments to the hospitality sector, statutory funding for North West Simon Community was reduced by 36% to €60,250 in 2022 from €97,750 in 2021.
Mr Daly said that difficulty obtaining statutory funding is not a new development for the charity.
He said: “The latest homeless figures may spark a political debate about whether the Government’s ending of the moratorium on evictions on March 31st contributed to the latest increase in homelessness, but what we really need today is a focus on the urgent action required to reduce homelessness.
“Across the country, Regional Homeless Forums comprised of representatives from all statutory and voluntary agencies working with people experiencing homelessness recently prepared Homeless Action Plans to address the needs in their area. Despite a significant level of planning and debate in each region, the Action Plans are subjected to further review within the Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage, after which funding is allocated in accordance with departmental guidelines. The past experience of the North West Simon Community suggests the level of funding allocated to the region in 2023, is unlikely to permit the speedy implementation of the measures which the North West Regional Joint Homeless Consultative Forum has concluded are needed to address homelessness in the region.
“While Government debates how to best manage its expected surpluses in Corporation Taxes, it should take whatever decisions are necessary to ensure that the funding required to fully implement each Regional Homeless Action Plan, is made readily available.”