Homeless and housing charity Peter McVerry Trust will launch its 2014 annual report later today in Dublin.

The report shows that for the seventh year in succession the numbers of people accessing Peter McVerry Trust services increased.

The charity has now warned that the rapid rise in people accessing its services has placed a huge strain on its resources and is concerned that a spike in rents could push more people out of their accommodation and into homeless services.

Speaking ahead of the report launch, Pat Doyle CEO of Peter McVerry Trust said: "Last year, Peter McVerry Trust worked with 4,460 participants across its services.

“That was an increase of 24% on the number of people we worked with in 2013 and a very significant rise on the number people we worked with at the start of the recession back in 2008 when we supported 383 participants.

"The increase in the numbers we are working with is due to Peter McVerry Trust's ability to respond quickly and flexibly to the needs of people experiencing homelessness.

“In 2014 we opened at least one new service in each of our 4 core areas of service provision. These new services, combined with the rapid rise of people presenting as homeless, have seen us experience a large rise in participant numbers.

"Unfortunately, this year has been even busier than 2014 and we now expect to work with 7,500 participants across our services during 2015. That will be a 68% increase in a single year and it will be more than double the 2013 figure."

"Responding to these needs has placed a huge strain on our resources as well as our ability to respond and offer additional supports to those in need.

“This winter, for the first time in the organisation's history, we may not have the financial resources needed to respond quickly to the emergency needs of people in homelessness. This simply underlines the scale of the challenge we are attempting to tackle."

Mr Doyle has called on the Government to continue to prioritise homelessness and the factors that contribute to it.

"We have welcomed recent measures on rental reform and housing supply but warned that rents will rise sharply unless new legislation is introduced immediately.

“Today's Daft Rental Report which shows the single largest quarterly increase in rents since early 2007 only adds to our concerns that we will see a sharp rent rise result in a spike in homelessness at time when the sector could easily be overwhelmed.

"We cannot afford a situation where politicians feel they have done enough to respond to this emergency. The numbers in need of our help are staggering and those at risk are even greater.

“We can't afford for thoughts of a general election to deflect from the huge challenges that exist, challenges that can only be successfully tackled with strong Government leadership."

Mr Doyle said that housing supply remained the charity's number one strategic objective and that despite the huge rise in the numbers accessing homeless services the charity has remained committed to making significant investments in new housing supply.

"Peter McVerry Trust has invested heavily in securing housing units to help people move out of homelessness. Last year we managed to move 132 people into their own homes and recorded a 168% increase in the number of people worked with in their own homes.

"The charity ended 2014 with 136 housing units scattered across Dublin, compared with less than 10 units in 2008. 

The challenge that we face is ensuring that housing supply when it does come on stream meets the needs of people in homeless services and is built to meet the needs of all cohorts including single people who make up the majority of those in homelessness," he added.