New official figures published today show that the number of rough sleepers in the Dublin region is 35% up on the same period last year.

There were 138 people sleeping rough in the Dublin region during this year's spring count - the highest ever recorded for this time of year.

It is also only slightly down on the last winter count, despite 210 new hostel beds being provided since then.

The figures also do not include a group of 23 Romanians found sleeping rough in Dublin city centre on the night of the count, 4 April.

In a statement, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DHRE) said that this was "an additional and unique" group who had recently arrived looking for work.

It is understood their work offer fell through and that they accepted repatriation.

The figures also do not include 57 sleeping on the floor of the all-night Merchants Quay cafe.

The DHRE said that 72% of the rough sleepers were found in the Dublin city area with the remainder in the other three Dublin local authority areas.

A total of 85 were Irish nationals, 13 were non-Irish and the nationality of 40 could not be ascertained on the night.

The DHRE said it is working with Dublin City Council to provide an additional 150 emergency beds over the coming months.

In a statement, Minister for Housing Simon Coveney said: "Since the launch of Rebuilding Ireland in July last year, we have made continued efforts to deliver on the objectives in the plan in relation to dealing with the challenging and complex issue of homelessness.

"This Government continues to apply the substantial resources required to deal with homelessness."

He added: "We remain committed to finding more homes for people who find themselves homeless, we remain fully focused on increasing supply which is at the core of our various housing challenges.  

"There are no quick-fix solutions here but I will continue to work with my colleagues in Government and all stakeholders to address the major challenge that is homelessness." 

Dublin Simon Chief Executive Sam McGuinness said most of the Government's recent efforts had been focused on homeless families.

There is a shortage of one-bed and two-bed housing that would allow single people to move out of emergency accommodation, he said.

He predicted that the numbers of homeless for single persons will continue to rise this year.

The Peter McVerry Trust, a homeless and housing charity, said the latest rough sleeper figure for Dublin is disappointing and reflects the challenge in securing housing "move ons" for people in homelessness.

Trust CEO Pat Doyle said they would redouble efforts to deliver a housing-led response to rough sleeping.

He said that empty homes is one obvious area that could offer an immediate housing solution.

"An option to create housing solutions quickly and cheaply is to get empty homes back into use.

"These buildings can and must play a critical role in providing exits from homelessness.

"We know there are over 33,000 empty homes in Dublin alone yet we only need around 200 of these to all but eliminate rough sleeping in the city," he added.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Mr Doyle said he would have hoped the 220 beds introduced at Christmas would have made a difference, but today's figures show the extent of the issue.

He said there needs to be greater partnership and cooperation between Government departments to protect the most vulnerable and marginalised.