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Homeless Quarterly Progress Report for Quarter 4 and Monthly Homeless Report for December 2020

The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD has today (29 January, 2021) published the Monthly Homeless Report for December 2020 and the Homeless Quarterly Progress Report for the fourth quarter of 2020.

The quarterly progress report is prepared by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, based on quarterly performance reports submitted by the nine regional lead authorities responsible for the administration of homeless services at local level.

The number of individuals presenting to homeless services and the number of people accessing emergency accommodation reduced considerably in 2020.  At the end of 2020, there were 8,200 individuals accessing emergency accommodation, a decrease of 1,531 individuals (15.7%) on the 9,731 total recorded at end of 2019.  The decrease in family homelessness was more pronounced. The year-on-year position is that December 2020 showed a decrease of 578 families (37.3%) on the 1,548 total recorded in December 2019.  This represents the lowest number of families in emergency accommodation since March 2016.

The quarterly progress report shows that 1,485 adults and their dependants exited from emergency accommodation or were prevented from entering into emergency accommodation in the fourth quarter of 2020.  Overall in 2020, a total of 5,886 such exits from homelessness have been achieved.  All these exits were to homes with tenancies.

The quarterly performance report also records the number of families who are prevented from entering emergency accommodation by way of a tenancy being created, and the number of families exiting from emergency accommodation in the Dublin Region.  The report shows that 53% of families presenting to homeless services in 2020 were prevented from having to enter emergency accommodation through a tenancy having been created.

In 2020, 1,221 families exited emergency accommodation in Dublin into a tenancy.  There were 2,066 dependants associated with these families.  This represents a 10% increase on the number of families exiting emergency accommodation in Dublin in 2019, despite there being fewer families in emergency accommodation in 2020 than was the case in 2019. 

The monthly report for December 2020, which is also published today, indicates that the total number of homeless individuals, including dependants fell from 8,484 in November to 8,200 at end December, a decrease of 284 (3.3%).

Of the homeless adults recorded in December, 4,447 (76%) are single adults (adults who are not part of a family unit).  This is a decrease of 89 (2%) on the 4,536 single adults recorded the previous month.

There were 970 families in emergency accommodation in the December survey week, a decrease of 64 (6.2%) on the 1,034 recorded in November 2020.  A total of 2,327 dependants, associated with these families, were in emergency accommodation, a decrease of 125 on the 2,452 recorded in November 2020.  This is the lowest number of dependants recorded since June 2016.  The year on year position is that December 2020 showed a decrease of 1,095 (32%) dependants on the 3,422 total recorded in emergency accommodation in December 2019.

Housing First provides homeless people with high support needs with housing and the wraparound supports required to maintain a tenancy.  The programme delivered 49 tenancies in quarter four of 2020.  There are now 509 active Housing First tenancies nationwide with a target of 663 tenancies by the end of 2021 and a commitment to further expand the scheme.

Commenting on the details contained in the reports published today, the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD said, “Significant progress has been made in addressing homelessness in 2020 and this is evident from the end-of-year figures.  The numbers in emergency accommodation fell by almost 16% over the past year.  Family homelessness is at its lowest level since March 2016.  Within these families, we have lowest number of dependants recorded as homeless since June 2016.

These reductions are not just down to the enhanced private rented sector protections introduced during COVID-19.  Local authorities and voluntary organisations have done a huge amount of work, and the Government has taken a lead role in providing investment and support.

“While these current trends are positive, we still have a lot of work to do and homelessness remains unacceptably high.  My long-term vision is to have more social and affordable homes with much fewer people in emergency accommodation.  We want housing for all.  We need to support people in their immediate need for shelter, food and support.  But we have to have a longer term objective of moving each person out of homelessness, no matter how complex their personal circumstances.

“Supply is critical. We are spending more money than any other Government previously on housing. We are making progress. The overall budget for social housing delivery in 2021 is €3.3 billion which is more than any other Government has provided in a single year.  We also want to see people being able to buy and own their own home and to ensure that these homes are affordable.  We are putting the supports and specific policy initiatives in place to make this happen.

“Rough sleepers are at the very sharp end of homelessness and are among the most vulnerable individuals in society.  Rough sleeping is a persistent issue and is one that rightly demands a lot of attention and resources, especially during COVID-19.  There should be a bed available for everyone who needs one.  This was not always the case, but it is now and the Government has provided the resources to make sure that this is the case. Where issues have arisen and been brought to my attention, or where clarity was needed on the provision of emergency accommodation, I have acted as Minister.  Nobody should be sleeping rough for want of a bed.  Outreach teams have been enhanced and they operate into the night to interact with people on the street.  They often have multiple engagements with individuals to encourage people to take up offers of a bed or to return to accommodation they may already have. I want to see this work continue, with the Government providing the necessary supports,” concluded Minister O’Brien.