Impact of Eviction Ban set to heighten already record homeless figures
The situation has been described as "very challenging" by Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien.
A record-breaking total of nearly 12,000 people accessed emergency accommodation last month, the latest Government statistics show.
This total of 11,988 people, was reached prior to the contentious lifting of the pandemic-induced eviction ban, which lapsed on the 1st of April.
The figures highlight that there were 1,639 families accessing emergency accommodation in March, with 29% (3,472) of those declared homeless being children under the age of 18.
Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien has described the situation as "very challenging", but added that "Government, local authorities and those in our NGO sectors are working together and making every effort to reduce homelessness. Tackling this issue is a Government priority".
Mr. O'Brien also claimed that housing supply is on the rise and that the market was going in the right direction, "particularly for social and affordable homes".
Another homelessness charity, Focus Ireland, have spoken on the concerning nature of the figures, with CEO Pat Denningan stressing the gravity of the housing crisis for many across the country.
"We are getting calls and emails every day from people who are facing no fault eviction and homelessness. They are terrified and I really do not think the Government has spoken to people in this situation as if they had, they would not have lifted the ban".
The Simon Community, another of Ireland's most well-known homelessness charities, have described the figures as "deeply upsetting", adding that "Government action on homelessness has to be judged on results and these figures are evidence that not enough is being done".
Additionally, veteran campaigner Fr. Peter McVerry, who last month became embroiled in a war of words with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar over the lifting of the eviction ban, offered his concerns regarding the record-breaking figures.
"They're a total disaster, in fact, but not surprising. What's disastrous is not just the numbers, but the fact that for years now almost every month - with one or two exceptions - the number of homeless people has just been going up relentlessly".
Pointing out the fact that these official figures are still not even including those who are sleeping rough or stuck in the Direct Provision system, Fr. McVerry claimed that the actual figures are likely far higher.
Fr. McVerry went on to call for the reinstating of the eviction ban, stating that without doing so, the homelessness figures for the coming months were "going to be further and further disastrous".
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