Charity Depaul said the sector was grappling with its “worst crisis” in years, with over 18,000 people on the island of Ireland left homeless.
According to the charity’s annual report, she supported 3,670 people last year – 2,848 adults and 822 children.
Depaul has five main service areas: Prevention, Families and Young People, High Support Housing, Health and Rehabilitation, and Housing.
In 2021, 681 women in the Republic of Ireland and 291 women in Northern Ireland used their services, while 141 women were helped to move from homelessness into “suitable and safe housing”.
479 families came through his ministries last year. 800 children were assisted, up from 772 in 2020, while eight babies were born in Depaul services.
The charity runs 37 homeless services in 20 counties in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
CEO David Carroll has expressed his concerns about the current homeless crisis. “The need for our services has never been greater, and we must continue to address homelessness as part of our public health response so we can develop a coordinated approach to find a sustainable solution,” he said.
“There are currently over 10,568 homeless people in Ireland and 8,120 homeless people in Northern Ireland. These numbers are largely due to large numbers of people priced out of the rental market with nowhere to go.
“We need urgent action – we’re working around the clock to respond to one of the worst homelessness crises in years, and we can’t do it alone.”
Mr Carroll said the lack of affordable housing was “directly linked to homelessness” and argued there was an “urgent need” for more single shelters to accommodate the growing number of single people who are becoming homeless.
He added: “There is a chronic shortage of staff across the sector and we are unable to ease the number of homeless people. Recruiting and retaining a highly skilled workforce is vital to support the extremely vulnerable people in our care. There is simply not enough investment in the voluntary sector, which provides valuable and essential support to many of the most vulnerable in our society. Benchmarking wages and benefits for homeless sector workers at the level of municipal or HSE rates would have a significant impact on this issue.”
The charity has also called for more women-only shelters for single women. 25 percent of service users last year were women, including 297 single women.
Niamh Thornton, Senior Services Manager at Depaul said: “As a provider of four women-only services, we know there is a chronic shortage of accommodation and support for single women who are homeless in Ireland. In 2021 we were proud to have supported 681 homeless women across the Republic of Ireland and 291 women in Northern Ireland whilst helping 141 women move from homelessness into suitable and safe accommodation in their own homes.”
Last year, Depaul implemented two HSE-funded Covid shielding units, enabling important health measures and 240 additional bed places.
It also continued its Homeless Health Peer Advocacy Program, which helps people take control of their lives and reduces hospital no-shows.
Depaul Ambassador Professor Luke O’Neill said the charity continues to lead by example.
“Her work showed professionalism, resilience and compassion. The hard work of Depaul staff and volunteers continues to save lives and provide specialized health care and services to the homeless,” he added.
“The current homelessness crisis is deepening and now is the time to take appropriate supportive action to help those most vulnerable in our society.”