Census Shows 81% Increase in Homelessness

On the night of the Census in April 2016, it recorded 6,906 people as being homeless in Ireland.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Today’s census figures show an incredible 81% increase in the number of people who are homeless since 2011. While figures have continued to increase since this data was captured on one night in April 2016 (latest government figures from one week in June 2017, showed there were 7,941 men, women and children in emergency accommodation across the country) the increase was unsurprising but deeply concerning.

However the census figures are only a snapshot of some people in homeless services and accommodation on census night and tell just part of the story.

It is hugely concerning to see the increase in young people who are becoming homeless; 27% of those counted as homeless on census night we under the age of 18. We know that people who have experience of homelessness in their youth are more likely to become homeless again as adults. Nobody should have to experience homelessness but it is particularly poignant to experience it as a child or young person. These figures show that people who are homeless are less likely to have higher education qualifications; we must ensure people have the supports necessary to access the education and training that they need to live independently.

The census figures also highlighted that over 55% of people who are homeless are in the labour force, suggesting that there are thousands of workers who cannot afford to buy or rent a home of their own. The long term solution to ending the crisis is to build more social housing, more affordable housing. In the meantime, we must ensure that the private rental market is accessible to people. Addressing the spiralling rents and dwindling supply in private rented sector must be a priority. These persistent issues are preventing people from finding and sustaining affordable homes within the rental market. Keeping people in the homes that they already have is key to stopping the flow of people into homelessness.

The figures also showed an increase in the number of women who are now homeless. 42% of people who are homeless are women, this is an increase of 9% since 2011. Family homelessness has increased by over 200%. 95% of one parent families are headed by women; the number of one parent families experiencing homelessness has increased by 206% since 2011. 12% of people are recorded as divorced, significantly higher than the general population at 5%, we know that family breakdown is one of the leading causes of homelessness so we must look at how we can prevent homelessness in the case of a marital breakdown.

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