Fears are growing that the homeless crisis will worsen this winter as some local authorities have to turn away people seeking emergency shelter.
he Irish Independent contacted all city and county governments regarding shelter availability, and most who responded are currently at capacity or have limited vacancies.
Housing association Threshold said tenants were being evicted from rented accommodation in “unprecedented numbers” and warned the number of homeless people was likely to rise in the coming months.
The latest figures from the Housing Department show that the number of homeless people has hit a record high at 10,568, including 7,431 adults and 3,137 children.
That number doesn’t include people who sleep poorly, however, or people living in hidden homelessness, of which the Simon Community estimates as many as 290,000, according to new research.
Municipalities will implement their cold-weather strategies in November and aim to increase overall capacity, but at the moment many do not have space available.
All emergency accommodation provided by local authorities in Galway, Limerick, Mayo, Kilkenny, Sligo and Clare are currently at capacity.
A spokesman for Limerick City and County Council said anyone who presents when there is no space available will receive self-accommodation money “in line with legislation”.
Temporary accommodation in the Dublin region is “working at full capacity most nights” with the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) currently bidding for more accommodation to increase availability.
Clare County Council said it operates a waiting list “as there are movements in service in 2022 with over 200 housing allocations so far”.
Longford County Council has access to two homeless shelters that currently have no vacancies.
Tipperary County Council had 10 rooms available on Friday, while Cork City Council said it currently has adequate accommodation to “meet our needs”. Cork County Council said the number of rooms available will change based on demand, with up to 12 rooms available.
Leitrim County Council said it accesses emergency accommodation through B&Bs and hotels, but does not have to take it at this time. Roscommon has no dedicated emergency shelter, while Sligo said no shelter is currently available.
Mayo County Council “does not currently have any temporary emergency housing in Mayo – the units that we have are at full capacity and are unavailable,” according to a spokesman. They added: “We use B&B type accommodation on a case-by-case basis for further presentations.”
Waterford City and County Council currently has 68 emergency shelters. All other municipalities did not respond to inquiries.
Tenants living outside of Rent Pressure Zones (RPZ) are seeing rent increases of up to 60 percent, and in some cases the rent is being doubled
Threshold Policy Officer Ann-Marie O’Reilly told the Oireachtas Housing Committee how some people have been turned away by local authorities who are under significant pressure due to a lack of available housing.
“People sleep on couches, in cars, or in the raw, and they’re not counted in official homeless numbers,” she said.
Ms O’Reilly warned of how the rising cost of living is adversely affecting renters and raised concerns about rent increases that would force people into homelessness.
Tenants living outside of Rent Pressure Zones (RPZ) are seeing rent increases of up to 60 percent, and in some cases the rent is being doubled. She said tenants would take invalid rent increases amid fears of losing their homes if they spoke up.
Cabinet ministers have been warned that the rising number of people seeking shelter is putting additional pressure on community-level services.
The past five years have also seen a significant increase in European Economic Area (EEA) citizens seeking emergency accommodation in Ireland.
In 2016, 9.6 per cent of people seeking emergency shelter were from EEA countries. This rose to 19.4 percent last year. In July, 26.2 per cent of single adults seeking accommodation were EEA nationals.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/fears-for-winter-as-emergency-accommodation-nears-capacity-and-homelessness-soars-42016126.html Fears for winter as shelters near capacity and homelessness rises