The Housing Act 1988, provides the legal definition of homelessness in Ireland:
2. A person shall be regarded by a housing authority as being homeless for the purposes of this Act if—
(a) there is no accommodation available which, in the opinion of the authority, he, together with any other person who normally resides with him or who might reasonably be expected to reside with him, can reasonably occupy or remain in occupation of, or
(b) he is living in a hospital, county home, night shelter or other such institution, and is so living because he has no accommodation of the kind referred to in paragraph (a), and he is, in the opinion of the authority, unable to provide accommodation from his own resources.
The Department’s official homelessness statistics are published on a monthly basis and refer to the number of homeless persons accommodated in emergency accommodation managed by local authorities during one full week. The reports are produced through the Pathway Accommodation & Support System (PASS), collated on a regional basis and compiled and published by the Department. Homelessness reporting commenced in this format in 2014.
It is important to note that monthly statistics published by Government do not include households frequently described as the “hidden homeless” that may be sleeping rough, living in refuges, or staying with parents, relatives or friends in overcrowded conditions, and those who have either not sought or not been approved for support by the local authority.
The most recent Social Housing Assessment completed in November 2020, identified 709 households that were eligible for social housing whose “current tenure” was listed as either “living with parents”, or “living with relatives/ friends”, in the North West region. This increase of 115 households since the 2019 Assessment, represents one third of the national increase under this category in the national assessment. There was what appears to be a corresponding decrease of 113 qualified households whose current tenure was Private Rented Accommodation. As mentioned elsewhere on this website, research has found that “Typically, these families went through a period of less stable accommodation – often living with friends or families – before approaching homeless services.” These statistics suggest that the number of people living in insecure housing in the North West Region is likely to be far higher than the monthly homeless statistics indicate.