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Homeless charities hit out at suggestion non-nationals would be excluded from figures

The Department said that it was awaiting a report from an interdepartmental group.

ICHH says that rough sleeping would grow if the plan goes ahead.
ICHH says that rough sleeping would grow if the plan goes ahead.
Image: Leon Farrell/RollingNews.ie

HOMELESSNESS CHARITIES HAVE reacted angrily to suggestions that the Department of Housing would remove non-EU nationals and those in long-term healthcare facilities from the official homeless figures.

Yesterday’s Sunday Independent suggested that senior Housing officials had informed Minister Eoghan Murphy that hundreds of non-EU nationals, who may not be entitled to housing, and as many as 2,000 people in long-term healthcare, may be currently listed as being homeless in error.

The Department told TheJournal.ie that it was awaiting a report from an interdepartmental group regarding the underlying causes of homelessness.

Reacting to the news, Mike Allen of Focus Ireland said he hoped the move would not happen.

“Over the last number of weeks there has been a series of stories in the sunday papers which appear to have been ‘leaked’ by Department of Housing ‘officials’ to suggest that the Department’s own measurement of homelessness do not reflect reality. Without exception these stories have had no substance and are never heard of again. We can only hope that this story falls into the same category.

“The agreement in Ireland has been to count the number of people living in emergency accommodation paid for under Section 10 of the Housing Acts. This definition excludes large numbers of people who are clearly homeless (e.g. people rough sleeping, families in Domestic Violence refuges, people whose asylum applications have been accepted but cannot find anywhere to live other than the direct provision centres).

However this definition provides an easily collected, consistent and reliable measure of the scale of the problem. The Department has put forward no coherent case as to why it would be useful to move to a different definition at this point.

CEO of Inner City Helping the Homeless Anthony Flynn said the plan was “inexcusable”.

“The Ministers clear attempt to reduce the number of people recorded as homeless is now inexcusable. Eoghan Murphy’s actions over the last week have shown that he is sailing on a sinking ship and is willing to go to whatever means necessary in order for the figures not to exceed the 10,000 mark as this would be political suicide.

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“Removing foreign nationals from the homeless register is not going to solve the problem, in fact quite the contrary as it will make it worse. If these people are reclassified as not entitled to section 10 accommodation we will see the rough sleeper figure soar to unprecedented levels.”

News of the plan comes at a time when the classification and counting of homeless people is high on the agenda.

Last week, TheJournal.ie revealed that Louth County Council had been instructed to remove certain categories of people from its official homeless numbers, including people the council itself deemed to be homeless.

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