The chief executive of one of Ireland's leading homelessness charities has said the "problem of homelessness is now out of control".

Pat Doyle of the Peter McVerry Trust was commenting after figures released last night showed an increase of 40% in the number of people in emergency accommodation.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland about the charity’s latest annual report, Mr Doyle said it faced "enormous challenges" after a huge increase in demand for its services last year.

Last year was its busiest year on record.

Mr Doyle said spiraling rents are the primary reason for the surge in demand for services, and is calling on the Government to purchase vacant private housing stock in order to increase supply.

The overall number supported in the charity's housing services rose by 40% compared to 2014, and the Trust helped 171 young people move into their own homes, the largest number in a year to date.

New national figures for July have shown that more than 6,500 people are using emergency accommodation, a year on year increase of 40%.

The Simon Communities in Ireland has said the figures show that the Government must urgently implement the Rebuilding Ireland action plan.

"We worked with about 4,500 people last year and only housed 171 of those," said Mr Doyle. "So what we want to see is less emergency beds and more housing.

"The way to do that is to implement the government action plan, to get the rapid build housing going and in the meantime to do everything we can to support the private rented market."

Mr Doyle said there are more children than ever in emergency accommodation and said this crisis is not just the Minister for Housing's responsibility.

"When people come in to our services they are looking for a bed and three other things - support economically, support with mental health and support with addiction.

"So we need greater emphasis from the Minister for Health in relation to addiction and mental health services and greater emphasis from the Minister for Social protection in relation to rent supplement.

"It needs to be index linked."