The total number of homeless people in the country has exceeded 8,000 for the first time, with 36% of them children, according to the latest figures released by the Department of Housing.

Government statistics for July show there were 1,429 families without homes - up almost 5% from June - leading to a total of 8,160 people homeless in Ireland.

The number of children without a home now stands at over 2,970.

The figures have gone up by 25% within a year.

Focus Ireland has said the latest increase in homeless families must be "a line in the sand", noting that it is the highest number of homeless adults, homeless families, and homeless children in the history of the State.

Director of Advocacy with Focus Ireland Mike Allen described the statistic as "staggering".

"The time has now come for the Government to take the decisions it has shied away from for several years," he said.

"This includes actively building social housing, taxing those who hoard building land and protecting the rights of tenants facing eviction," he added.

The national figures were released today by the Department of Housing in respect of homelessness in July.

They come ahead of a summit tomorrow called by Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy and involving the chief executives from 31 local authorities.

Focus Ireland said there must also be firm action taken in the coming Budget - which is set to take place on World Homelessness Day on 10 October.