Thousands of Irish remain homeless as houses lie emptyKim Haughton for the guardian

Focus Ireland, a charity that helps the homeless, have reported an almost 20 percent increase in demand for their services in the last year.

In 2009, the charity helped to support 5,500 people but last year alone they helped 6,500 people.

So far this year the charity has helped 3,700 people up until the end of May.

On Tuesday, at the launch of their annual report in Dublin, the organization’s president and founder, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy expressed disappointment that successive governments had failed to tackle the problem of homelessness during the Celtic Tiger years.

"A policy driven by ‘investment opportunities’, ‘tax breaks’ and ‘leverage’ and ‘equity’ may lead to a lot of building, but it will not build homes or communities," she said. "We had the bizarre situation where millionaires paid limited or no tax while the number of homeless continued to rise.

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"We have seen growing unemployment, pay cuts and more low earners in the tax net. There is also the additional burden of the universal social charge, the expected new water charges and increases in gas and electricity prices. This… will lead to gross inequalities, terrible poverty, suffering and stress for more and more people."

Joyce Loughnan, the chief executive of Focus Ireland revealed staggering numbers remain homeless.

"There are still 5,000 people who are homeless, over 100,000 on housing waiting lists and many thousands struggling to keep a roof over their heads."

According to the annual report, Focus Ireland helped provide homes for some 620 households in Dublin, Limerick, Kilkenny, Clare, Waterford, Cork and Sligo, last year.