A CHILDREN’S charity has called on the next government to take immediate action to address the alarming rise in the number of homeless children in Ireland.
It comes after a newly-published Department of Housing report for January found 3,574 children had no permanent residence.
That figure represents a 152 increase on the previous month and, according to Barnardo’s CEO Suzanne Connolly is a clear indication that family homelessness needs to be made a “top priority” by any incoming government.
“As the negotiations for the next Programme for Government continues, it is clear that the family homelessness crisis should be a top priority for all main political parties,” Ms Connolly told The Irish Mirror.
“Barnardos are calling on the next government to embed intensive and individualised family support services in communities trying to deal with complex and traumatic life experiences such as homelessness.”
Figures released for December had shown a 330-strong decline in the number of homeless children in December, but these latest figures have reversed that trend.
Ms Connolly said: “The legacy of the last government has been well documented in terms of the effects of homelessness on children’s physical health and wellbeing.
“The next government must ensure that no more children experience the trauma of homelessness and that those that are experiencing homelessness get the help they need. While building affordable homes will take time, adequately funding existing organisations in communities across Ireland can provide the support many children need.”
A total of 10,271 homeless adults and children are either sleeping rough or living in emergency accommodation as of the last week of January.
The number has jumped by 540 in just one month, which represents one of the steepest rises in homeless numbers in the last few years.
Frustratingly, the country experienced its sharpest decline in numbers in December, as figures dropped below 10,000 for the first time in almost year, but it sadly didn't last.
A spokesman for the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government said the figures were disappointing.
"Over the 12 months in 2019 we saw the number of people in emergency accommodation falling for the first time in many years," he said.
"This overall fall in numbers was not always obvious from the month to month figures. January has always been a challenging month. The challenge now is to continue the overall 2019 trend through 2020."