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Keane, Martin (2013) The first census of homeless persons in Ireland. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 44, Winter 2012, p. 18.

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The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has published for the first time a comprehensive profile of the homeless population, as enumerated in the 2011 census of the population of Ireland.1 This article presents a descriptive account of a selection of data contained in the report.

A comprehensive approach to measuring homelessness was adopted as part of the census undertaken on 10 April 2011. Homeless persons were identified based on where they were located on census night. Of the 4,588,252 persons counted in the state, 3,808 were either counted in accommodation providing shelter for homeless persons or were identified sleeping rough (Table 1).
Accommodation type
·        Over 40% (n=1,648) of homeless persons were counted in emergency accommodation: 1,117 males and 531 females.
·        555 were counted in transitional accommodation: 397 males and 158 females.
·        992 were counted in long-term accommodation: 578 males and 414 females.
·        344 were counted in mixed accommodation: 250 males and 94 females.
·        206 were counted in what was reported as ‘unknown’ accommodation: 139 males and 66 females.
Persons sleeping rough
The Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) on behalf of the CSO undertook a count of persons sleeping rough in the Dublin area on census night. The count took place between 3.30 am and 6.00 am through a process of ‘discovery’, that is, direct observation of the number of persons physically present and sleeping rough in Dublin on that night. Of the 64 persons counted sleeping rough, 58 were male and 59 were counted in Dublin.
Age profile
Almost three quarters of homeless persons (n=2,781) were in the 20–59-year age group; 641 were in the 0–19-year age group, including 457 children aged 0–14.
Marital status and the family unit
Among 3,351 homeless persons aged 15 or over, two thirds were single, compared to 42% in the general population.  Just under 6 %( n=189) were married or re-married, compared to 48% in the general population. Almost 17% (n=561) were separated or divorced, compared to 6% in the general population.
The family unit was defined as a couple with or without children or a lone parent with at least one child. There were 296 family units comprising 905 persons, of whom 498 were children.
Economic and education status
Of the 3,351 homeless persons aged 15 or over, 1,287 were unemployed and 99 were looking for their first job. Twenty-two per cent (n=752) were unable to work due to permanent sickness or disability, compared to 4% in the general population. 274 homeless persons were in work, 218 were students, and 186 were retired.
Forty-nine per cent (n=1,439) of homeless persons aged 15 to 59 did not have an educational qualification beyond lower second-level, compared to 25% in the general population.
General health and disabilities
Just over 60% (n=2,298) of the homeless population indicated that their general health was ‘good’ or ‘very good’, compared to 89% in the general population. Almost 70% of homeless females indicated that their health was ‘good’ or ‘very good’, compared to 56% of homeless males.
Almost a third (n=1,179) of the homeless population indicated that their general health was ‘fair’, ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’, compared to 10% in the general population. Forty-two per cent (n= 1,581) of homeless persons had a disability, compared to 13% in the general population. The most common disability was a psychological or emotional condition (n=740).
1.       Central Statistics Office (2012) Homeless persons in Ireland: a special census report. Cork: Central Statistics Office.  www.drugsandalcohol.ie/18334
Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Harm reduction
Issue Title
Issue 44, Winter 2012
January 2013
Page Range
p. 18
Health Research Board
Issue 44, Winter 2012
Accession Number
HRB (Electronic Only)

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