Housing need | 

Depaul says ‘worst crisis in years’ with over 18,000 people homeless in Ireland

“There are currently over 10,568 people homeless in Ireland and 8,120 people presenting as homeless in Northern Ireland. These figures are largely driven by high numbers of people who are priced out of the rental market and have nowhere to go.”

Depaul supported over 3,600 people last year. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Paul HylandIndependent.ie

The charity Depaul said the sector is dealing with the ‘worst crisis’ it’s seen in years, as over 18,000 people are homeless on the island of Ireland.

According to the charity’s annual report, it supported 3,670 people – 2,848 adults and 822 children – last year.

Depaul has five key service areas: Prevention, Families & Young People, High Support Accommodation, Health & Rehabilitation and Housing.

681 women in the Republic of Ireland accessed its services in 2021, as well as 291 women in Northern Ireland, while 141 women were helped to move out of homelessness and into “suitable and secure accommodation”.

479 families came through its services throughout last year. 800 children were supported which was up from 772 in 2020, while eight babies were born in Depaul services.

The charity provides 37 homeless services in 20 counties across both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

CEO David Carroll has expressed concern at the current homelessness crisis. “The need for our services has never been greater and we need to continue to treat homelessness as part of our public health response so we can develop a coordinated approach to reach a sustainable solution,” he said.

“There are currently over 10,568 people homeless in Ireland and 8,120 people presenting as homeless in Northern Ireland. These figures are largely driven by high numbers of people who are priced out of the rental market and have nowhere to go.

"Urgent action is needed – we are working around the clock to respond to one of the worst homelessness crisis we’ve seen in recent years and we can’t do it alone.”

Mr Carroll said the lack of affordable housing is “directly linked to homelessness” and argued that there is an “urgent need” for more single-unit accommodation options to accommodate the growing number of single people who are becoming homeless.

He added: “There is a chronic staff shortage across the sector and we are unable to facilitate the numbers entering into homelessness. Recruiting and retaining highly skilled workers is essential in order to support the extremely vulnerable people in our care. There is simply not enough investment into the voluntary sector who are providing valuable and essential support to the many of the most vulnerable in our society. Benchmarking salaries and benefits for homeless sector staff on par with local authority or HSE rates would have a significant impact on this issue.”

The charity has also called for more women-only accommodation services for single women. 25pc of service users last year were women, including 297 single women.

Senior Services Manager at Depaul, Niamh Thornton, said: “As a provider of four women only services, we recognise that there is a chronic shortage of accommodation and supports available for single women who are homeless in Ireland. In 2021, we were proud to have supported 681 women in homelessness across the Republic of Ireland and 291 women in Northern Ireland, whilst helping 141 women to move out of homelessness and into suitable and secure own-door accommodation.”

Last year Depaul implemented two HSE funded, Covid shielding units which provided crucial health interventions and 240 additional bed spaces.

It also continued its Homeless Health Peer Advocacy Programme which helps people to take control of their lives and reduces the number of “no-shows” at hospitals.

Depaul ambassador Professor Luke O’Neill said the charity continues to lead by example.

"Their work displayed professionalism, resilience and compassion. The hard work of Depaul’s staff and volunteers continues to save lives and provide specialised healthcare and services to people who are homeless,” he added.

"The current homelessness crisis is deepening and now is the time to put suitable supports in place to help the most vulnerable in our society.”


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