Homelessness among single adults has reached its highest ever level despite an overall drop in numbers.

The latest figures from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage show there were 4,447 single adults in emergency accommodation during January which is over half the total number.

Overall, there were 8,313 people homeless last month which is down by 19% since January 2020 when the figures stood at 10,271.

There were 922 families in emergency accommodation which is the lowest number since March 2016.

However, there was a seasonal increase of 113 people compared to December, almost all of which was accounted by 110 additional single adults.

The overall seasonal increase is down from the 540 recorded last year.

However, the number of single adults has been increasing steadily and they now account for 76% of all homeless adults.

Overall, 66% of homeless adults are male.

The Dublin Simon Community said the numbers of single people entering homelessness was due to a lack of availability "especially in the Dublin housing market".

Dublin Simon CEO Sam McGuinness said: "Single people and couples are not able to compete in the current housing market. Until there is a significant improvement in the availability of one-bed units for these groups to move into, we will continue to see the cycle of spiralling growth in the numbers of singles and couples stuck in emergency accommodation."

He said: "Their lives effectively pause to focus on survival. This is a crisis that is stealing years from the lives of a generation, wasted time and wasted potential."

Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy Mike Allen said that the "return to an increase in the monthly homeless figures is deeply concerning, particularly in the middle of a pandemic and Level 5 lockdown".

He said: "It is likely that many of those entering homelessness are also coming from the private rental market, indicating that there is to an extent a 'revolving door' effect trapping at-risk people between unstable rentals and emergency accommodation."

He added that there "is still a huge shortage of one-bed apartments in Ireland, which would be the preferred accommodation for many of the single adults who are becoming trapped in this system".

"The continued rise in single people homelessness is deeply concerning, but the response must not be to shift attention away from the continued crisis of family homelessness. Focus Ireland repeats its call for a balanced national strategy reflecting the needs of families, single people and young people, with a clear timeline to bring homelessness to an end," he said.