Homelessness in Ireland

Educational Resources on Homelessness

What is Homelessness?

When you think about home, what comes to mind? Do you think of buildings, houses and a place to stay, or do you think of other things like security, love, family, support, warmth and food?

A home is not just the possession of a physical space to sleep. Homelessness is an issue experienced by thousands of people in Ireland who lack a place to live that is safe, supports their needs, is in decent condition, and is affordable.


Response to homelessness

Originally established as the Arrupe Society, before renaming as Peter McVerry Trust in 1983, the charity and the support it offers was a response to homelessness, particularly among young people in Dublin, witnessed first-hand by Fr Peter McVerry at the time. 

By 1979, Fr McVerry had opened a small hostel to provide accommodation for boys between the ages of 12-16 who were experiencing homelessness.

In 2023, Peter McVerry Trust supported over 14,000 unique individuals across Ireland.

Generally speaking…

Although there is no universally accepted definition of homelessness, it can be defined narrowly to include only people without a roof over their heads, or it can be defined more broadly, as is the case in many countries in the world.

The broader definition would include people experiencing homelessness as people who are sleeping rough, people who are accessing temporary accommodation like hostels and B&Bs, and people who live in insecure and inadequate housing, like squats.

In Ireland, the figures that are reported each month by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in relation to homelessness refer to the number of adults and children in Ireland accessing temporary, emergency accommodation.

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Legal Definition in Ireland

The Housing Act 1988 provides a classification of a person experiencing homelessness under Section 2 of the legislation, for the purpose of assessment by a housing authority, as someone in a situation whereby:

“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 be reasonably expected to reside with him, can reasonably occur 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.”

This definition of homelessness in the Housing Act represents the legal basis upon which local authorities respond to housing need. In practice, however, homelessness can consist of a range of situations including sleeping on the streets, sleeping in places not intended for night-time accommodation, availing of public or private homeless shelter, emergency lodging such as B&B or hotel rooms.


12,827 people are currently experiencing homelessness in Ireland.

Learn more about Homelessness