Latest homeless figures indicate a welcome 1% decrease, but need to refocus policy remains crucial

    March homeless figures released today bring a much sought after decrease in high number of people in emergency accommodation, says the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP).

    The latest figures show that  9,681 people remain homeless, including 1,720 families and 3,646 children.
      
    Kieran Stafford, SVP National President said: "While these figures are a welcome reduction in the number of people homeless, they still represent a 37% increase over the last year, and a 42% increase in the number of children living in emergency accommodation.
     
    "Homelessness remains a pervasive problem and it is incumbent on Government to act. SVP members see every day that when people enter emergency accommodation, they lose their community, they are dislocated from their support networks, and are often placed at a distance from children’s schools. Families also commonly have limited or no facilities for cooking or washing. 
     
    We must appreciate that the figures represent real individuals and families, and react with the intensity and empathy that is required”.
     
    Jennifer Thompson SVP Social Policy Development Officer added "The figures released today demonstrate the need to focus on the relevant and necessary measures to adequately addressing the homeless emergency, and the importance of stemming the flow of people into homelessness. We understand that the way of collating and reporting homeless figures is currently being reviewed by the Department. We agree with the Ministers statement in relation to the importance of being able to properly understand the extent and nature of the problem, as well as inform policy decisions around solutions. It is for these very reasons that we would be gravely concerned over a move towards quarterly rather than monthly reporting. It is vital that trends in relation to homelessness are closely and transparently monitored, in a way that is reliable, consistent and timely. This ensures accountability and allows for appropriate responses."
     

    The homeless figures come just a few days after it was revealed that a total of 780 local authority houses were built in 2017.
     
    There is an urgent need to increase the ambition and prioritise delivery of social housing and get people back into homes."

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