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Hundreds more people removed from homeless figures over 'categorisation issue'

A further 252 people were removed from the homeless numbers over “miscategorisation” last month.

homeless figure

MINISTER FOR HOUSING Eoghan Murphy has published the latest homelessness figures for the month of April, saying that a further 252 people in Dublin have been taken out of the figures as they were living in a home rather than in emergency accommodation.

In the month of April, there were 5,963 homeless adults in Ireland, with 3,689 children also homeless.

While the official stats say that 29 fewer people are in emergency accommodation compared to the previous month, the number of children who are homeless has actually increased by 43.

homeless april

Murphy said that it appears that the number of families presenting to emergency accommodation is “stabilising”.

He said in a statement: “Moving people out of emergency accommodation while others continue to present as homeless remains a significant challenge.”

The minister said that two reports – one from the Dublin Region Homeless Executive and one from an inter-agency group on housing – would help the government to better coordinate interventions into the crisis.

Murphy said, on the “categorisation issue” that arose in March, that ongoing work is being done to identify those in homes rather than in emergency accommodation.

In April, a further 297 people were identified as having been in housing rather than emergency accommodation in Meath and Dublin, and Murphy said this is reflected in the figures.

Commenting on the error at the time, Murphy said that a number of local authorities had “erroneously categorised individuals and families living in local authority owned or leased housing stock, including some instances of people renting in the private sector but in receipt of social housing supports, as being in emergency accommodation”.

Miscategorisation

Murphy clashed with Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin in the Dáil over which groups of people should or should not be counted in monthly homeless figures earlier this month.

Tied in with this was a memo sent out by Louth County Council’s housing services to councillors saying that it was told by the Housing Department not to include people the council considers homeless in the monthly homelessness figures.

In total, 100 families were removed from Louth’s figures ahead of the publication of the March report.

Of these families, 58 were living in apartments leased by Louth County Council and paid for through Section 10 emergency accommodation funding. The families in question have no tenancy agreement.

A total of 22 of the families were in the process of transitioning to the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) social housing support, but had not yet been moved to HAP fully.

The final 20 families were in HAP tenancies but with extra top ups paid to landlords through Section 10 funding.

Speaking in the Dáil, Ó Broin said that 80 of the 100 families removed from the March figures were living in emergency accommodation and should not have been removed from the monthly numbers.

He did concede that the final 20 families were not homeless and should have been removed from the monthly numbers.

“But that means 80 of the 100 families you had removed from the figures in Louth are homeless, are in emergency accommodation type situations and should be classified as such and I challenge you again to correct the record,” said Ó Broin.

Otherwise you’re claiming that these families who are homeless, aren’t and I think that’s an insult to them and their children.

In its statement announcing the figures today, the Housing Department said it has written to each local authority seeking details on accommodation categories for people in emergency accommodation to make sure there’s no miscategorisation.

It said: “Given the critical importance of exiting families and children from emergency accommodation, it is crucial that our reporting systems allow us to measure progress in meeting this challenge.”

‘Alarmingly high’

Labour’s Jan O’Sullivan said she was concerned by the consistently high number of minors who are currently registered as homeless.

She said: “While homeless figures for April announced today show a very slight decrease they are still alarmingly high but the most concerning aspect is the increase in the number of children who are without a home by 43 bringing the total number of homeless children in Ireland to 3,689. This is a scandal.”

With reporting from Cormac Fitzgerald

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Sean Murray

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