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'Slight delay' in publishing Ireland's latest homeless numbers shows new form of reporting is needed, says minister

Some local authorities appear to be better than others in terms of sending their numbers to the Department of Housing.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy speaking to reporters in Dublin 8 this morning.
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy speaking to reporters in Dublin 8 this morning.
Image: Christina Finn

HOUSING MINISTER EOGHAN Murphy has said the government needs a better way of collating and reporting Ireland’s homeless figures.

The department is currently reviewing the system, however it is understood quarterly reporting of figures is being considered, rather than monthly reporting of the numbers.

The numbers for each month are generally reported in and around the 27th of each month. The latest figures released last month show that an extra 488 children became homeless in Ireland, with the total number of families in emergency accommodation now over 1,700.

The February figure for homeless adults stood at 6,052 and the number of homeless children at 3,755, meaning just shy of 10,000 people are now homeless in Ireland.

Murphy told TheJournal.ie today that there is a “slight delay” in releasing March’s figures (which were expected to be published today).

The minister explained that his department collects the numbers from all the local authorities around the country – but it appears some are better than others in terms of sending their reports to central government. It’s understood that some local authorities have also sent on inaccurate figures in the past, which the department has had to verify and send back, causing undue delays.

“We have at the moment what is a slight delay because some of the local authorities haven’t filed their returns yet – so until I have the numbers I can’t publish them. But that is why we need a more accurate and better structure and form of reporting for our homeless numbers.

“Every month they come on a different day and a different time and I know we want to have some consistency so that people can see what is happening – but more importantly so we can understand why it is happening.

“That piece of work is being undertaken at the moment. When it is completed we will be making an announcement about the recommendations we receive about reporting structures,” Murphy said.

“As soon as I have the numbers and I verify they are accurate, I will publish them,” he added.

Earlier this month, the minister was put on warning by Sinn Féin to get the homeless numbers down, or face a possible motion of no confidence in the Dáil.

However, Mary Lou McDonald rowed back on the threat, stating that no such motion would be tabled ahead of the referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

Speaking to reporters today in Dolphins Barn, Murphy said he, like many others, want to drive the numbers down. He added that many people are working to get people into sustainable accommodation around the country under the Rebuilding Ireland initiative.

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