The number of homeless people in Ireland could reach 10,000 by the middle of next year if the current rate continues, the Simon Community has warned. Spokeswoman for the homeless charity, Niamh Randall, said the homeless crisis “has been ongoing for two to three years. We’ve been warning that the crisis was waiting to happen.
“Everything is happening at a slow pace. Rapid build homes are taking 18 months, that’s just not rapid,” she said. The Government is under renewed pressure over homelessness and the housing crisis after figures published this month revealed 7,941 homeless people – 5,046 adults and 2,895 children – were in emergency accommodation in June, a 30 per cent increase on the same time last year.
On Monday morning the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said that the Government has a real homeless crisis and is seeking measures to get a “proper handle on it”. Property owners with second and vacant properties “should be on notice that changes are coming”, the minister warned.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Murphy said the 2016 Census showed that there are around 180,000 vacant homes in Ireland, and of those, around 25,000 would be of use in tackling the homeless crisis. He said many of the homes may no longer be vacant, because they may have been let or sold since the Census was taken, and some may be in areas where there is no demand for homes.
He admitted that the repair and lease scheme has not been as successful as hoped and this will be re-visited to see how it can be improved. A website – www.vacanthomes.ie – has been set up for people who wish to anonymously log details of possible vacant homes, allowing local authorities to follow up with the owners to see if the properties can be re-used.