Dublin Simon Launches Stark Christmas Campaign Highlighting Shocking Growth in Homelessness Amongst Elderly


Those 65+ in emergency accommodation up 30% in last year

Those 45 – 65 in emergency accommodation up 26% over same period


Dublin Simon Community has today launched an arresting new Christmas Advertising Campaign which aims to raise vital funds and awareness of an emergent new cohort in homeless services; older and elderly people.

The campaign, by pro-bono creative partner BBDO, will run across radio, social, digital and out-of-home.  It is a departure from Dublin Simon’s usual Christmas advertising, which Head of Fundraising & Communications Aisling Harmey says the charity was “compelled to make” based on this devastating phenomenon which its frontline teams are seeing on an increasing basis:

“Homelessness is tragic and traumatising at any age. For older people, that tragedy and trauma is compounded by the physical, mental and social challenges which come with age. At present, people are spending longer than ever before in emergency accommodation due to the chronic ongoing lack of social and affordable housing. No one should have to live in homelessness, and undoubtedly, no one should have to live their latter years in homelessness.

“It was from this place that we conceptualised this campaign; to raise awareness of this growing problem with the hope of affecting real and positive change for this incredibly vulnerable group of people. For some people, this campaign may be shocking, but the problem is shocking. Older and elderly people becoming homeless warrants the utmost alarm.”


Emergency Services

According to the monthly Homeless Reports released by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, in the last year, the number of those older than 65 residing in Dublin emergency accommodation has increased by 30%, with the number of those aged between 45 and 64 increasing by 26% over the same period. This increase is even more stark over the last five years, with the number of those in the 65+ cohort increasing by 50% and those in the 45 – 64 age group increasing by 88% during that period.

Senior Manager for Emergency Services at Dublin Simon Community Gemma Ryan said that this growing trend has been immensely challenging:

“We’re constantly saying that emergency services are a temporary solution and should serve as a brief stepping-stone to a long-term home. The reason for this is that until someone can close their own front door behind them, they are effectively homeless, and the longer people spend in homelessness the more likely they will acquire physical and mental health issues which could prevent them from being able to live independently ever again.

“Being homeless accelerates the ageing process. It is widely accepted across the sector that a person who has experienced long-term homelessness (over five years) is considered old or elderly at 55 due to the way they present physically and mentally. It has been truly devastating for our staff to see the growing number of older people arriving in emergency services and trying to navigate a system that is incredibly tough on young bodies at the best of times. Services are not equipped to deal with the unique challenges of older people and they shouldn’t have to be, because it shouldn’t be happening.”


Prevention Services

While the Homeless Reports by the Department of Housing, Local Government & Heritage document the number of older people residing in emergency accommodation, Dublin Simon’s Christmas Advertising Campaign is also concerned with the growing number of older people “on the brink” of homelessness, which is not captured in these figures.

Project Worker Adrian O’Reilly from Dublin Simon Community’s Tenancy Information & Support Service, says the last few years have also seen a marked increase in the number of older and elderly people receiving eviction notices due to changing dynamics in the housing market:

“Over the last few years, landlords have been leaving the market at an alarming rate. As a result, our prevention services have seen a significant increase in calls from older people, many of whom may have lived at their property for 20 years or more, paying a low rent which they can cover with their pensions.

“What’s happening now is many landlords are either selling or passing properties down to children, which is up-ending a lot of these long-standing tenancies. Our older clients are particularly afraid because they can’t afford to pay 2022 rent rates and those who may be able to aren’t familiar with the process or mightn’t have the digital skills or knowledge necessary to compete with younger people vying for the same property. It’s so upsetting and worrying for them.”

Eviction Ban

Commenting on the recent Eviction Ban, Dublin Simon CEO Catherine Kenny said:

“While we welcome the announcement of the eviction ban as a necessary measure to protect vulnerable people who are fearful of the 30% fuel increases expected this winter, the ban alone is not enough and immediate proactive action must be taken in the meantime to prevent an enormous backslide in April, by which time we expect there will be even greater competition for social and affordable housing given the current trends. 

“Unless the Department of Housing invests in the development of social housing and increases delivery through Local Housing Bodies while the ban is in effect, it will provide no comfort to the growing number of people in serious distress over the security of their homes, and serve only as an ominous ticking clock, counting down to a groundswell of evictions down the road. 


“The time to be creative and innovative is now. There needs to be innovation in the approach to vacant properties and new models of housing and accommodation; it has been clear for quite some time that the current system is just not working.”

Support the vital emergency and prevention work of Dublin Simon Community this Christmas by donating at

Dublin Simon Community provides services to 8,087 people in Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow and Meath, Louth, Cavan, Monaghan, who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Services range from:

  • Outreach support to people who are rough sleeping
  • Emergency accommodation for those with nowhere else to go
  • Treatment, counselling & recovery services for people experiencing homelessness with addiction issues
  • Long-term supported accommodation for those who need support
  • Independent housing units for people able to live independently
  • Tenancy support & homelessness prevention services to prevent falling into homelessness
  • Resettlement services for people moving out of homelessness and into a home of their own
  • Education & employability services for people who wish to build their skillset and find stable employment