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Just 31 families moved on from emergency homelessness accommodation in February

The latest Monthly Homelessness Report from the Department of Housing has shown that almost 1000 (935) families were trapped in Emergency Homeless Accommodation in February.

This represents a drop of just 31 families from the situation reported in January when a total of 966 families was recorded.

A further breakdown of the numbers for February reveals that there were 2,264 child dependants in emergency homelessness accommodation with the majority of these being children of single parent families-485 or 52% of the total.

The overall number of adults in emergency homeless accommodation in February was put at 5,974 with the majority of these (3,371) being in the 25-44 years old category.

This gives a total of 8,238 people.

According to the housing charity Focus Ireland however, these numbers do not reflect the true scale of the problem.
The charity has consistently highlighted the fact that from March 2018 the Department of Housing, changed how data on homelessness is recorded.

This has meant that an unspecified number of families who are homeless and placed in ‘own door’ i.e. self-contained accommodation are not included in these figures.

The February homelessness report comes after the Dáil and Seanad debated the Residential Tenancies Bill 2021.

The Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said the Bill was necessary to protect tenants in rent arrears due to Covid-19 and who are at risk of losing their tenancy from eviction and rent increases until 12 July 2021.

The opposition has claimed however that the protections are only being extended to those who have lost income due to Covid-19 or who are in receipt of a Covid-19 social protection payment.

It therefore excludes those who have maintained their income but who are being hit with excessive and unsustainable rent increases.

This view was shared by housing charities Threshold and The Simon Community. Both organisations have argued that section 2 of the Bill will allow private renters to be evicted even when the moratorium on evictions in in place.

It is Thresholds view that such a change is unnecessary and will cause considerable confusion and distress to a significant cohort of private renters, at a time when certainty in the private rented market is required on health grounds.

The opposition also pointed to a finding from The Economic and Social Research Institute that found, in terms of rent arrears, approximately one in three households in the private rented sector, or 70,000, had insufficient income prior to the pandemic to meet the minimum costs of living after meeting its housing costs.

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