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Both SF's Eoin Ó Broin and FF's Darragh O'Brien criticised the figures.

Housing dept 'utterly rejects' criticism of homeless figures amid claims of 'pre-election manipulation'

The number of people homeless in December 2019 dipped below 10,000 before rising above that figure again in January 2020.

THE DEPARTMENT OF Housing has said it “utterly rejects” any suggestion there was anything “improper” with the homeless figures it published for December 2019.

It comes after both Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil’s housing spokespersons accused Fine Gael’s Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy of massaging the figures before the election. 

In the case of Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin, he has also called for an independent review of the homeless figures from December 2019.

Figures from the department last month - while the election campaign was ongoing - showed that 9,731 people were in emergency accommodation during December 2019, the first time the number had fallen below 10,000 since breaching the five-figure mark last March.

However, in figures published on Thursday for January 2020, it showed that there were 10,271 people in emergency accommodation that month, a rise of 540 compared with December. 

Charities such as Inner City Helping Homeless have highlighted how there is often a drop in the number of people homeless in December as many families and individuals choose to spend Christmas with family or friends before these figures rise again in January.

When the figures for January were published, Ó Broin said it was “clear that December figures were pre-election manipulation by Eoghan Murphy”.

Fianna Fáil’s Darragh O’Brien, meanwhile, said it was “obvious” that the Fine Gael government “massaged numbers” before the election “to their own ends”. 

Ó Broin said that the increase of the number of people homeless in January “underlines the deep suspicion that many have on the veracity of the figures published in December”.

“Rather than politicising this discussion, it is our view that an independent review of the December homeless figures should be conducted by the CSO or the Housing Agency,” he said. 

Ó Broin added that consideration should be given to allowing independent bodies such as the CSO collate statistics around homelessness so that there is “no perception of or actual manipulation of the figures”. 

In a statement to, the Department of Housing rejected criticism of the figures.

It said: “The Department utterly rejects any suggestions that there was anything improper in the statistics prepared by the Department.

“The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government publishes a monthly homeless report, which includes details of the number of individuals accommodated in emergency accommodation that are funded under Section 10 of the Housing Act 1988 over a designated survey week.

“These reports are based on data provided by housing authorities and are produced through the Pathway Accommodation & Support System (PASS), the single integrated national data information system on State-funded emergency accommodation arrangements overseen by housing authorities.

“The reports have been published in this format since 2014 using a methodology that was agreed by a data sub-group of the National Homeless Consultative Committee, comprised of NGOs from the homeless sector, the Department and local authorities.

With reporting from Orla Dwyer

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