An error in how the number of people accessing emergency accommodation is recorded has resulted in a cumulative overcount of homeless adults of about 300. The correction of the error, which was discovered over the summer, will result in an apparent fall in homelessness, by about 300, when August homelessness figures are published on Friday.
Sources say the error is down to a communication gap between private emergency accommodation providers and the central register operated by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE), known as the Pass (Pathway Accommodation and Support System).
The Pass system is an online register that holds details of every individual accessing emergency accommodation in Dublin. It is accessible to all homelessness services to provide “real-time” information on homeless presentations and bed occupancy across the Dublin region.
Private accommodation providers, such as B&Bs and hotels, however, have not had access to the Pass until August.
The error appears to have occurred where single adults who presented for emergency accommodation were “booked” by DRHE into a private bed, as opposed to one provided by a homelessness charity like Depaul or the Peter McVerry Trust.
In some cases where the single adult failed to take up the bed, or left it after a few days without registering that they were leaving, the private operators had no means of cancelling the booking on the Pass system. As a result, these individuals were remaining “counted” on the Pass system as a homeless adult.
Private emergency accommodation providers do now have a “real-time” communications route into Pass.
It remains unclear how long the overcounting of homeless adults has been going on, while most errors have been tracked to recent months but a smaller number could date back longer.
Sources stress the discrepancies amount to less than 1 per cent of all emergency placements of single adults in the capital and the apparent fall of 300 does not equate to a genuine drop in homelessness, which remains on an upward trajectory.
The Irish Times understands an independent expert in statistics and data-recording will be appointed in coming days to go back through homelessness data in Dublin for the past number of years.
The error has been notified to Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien. The Department and the DRHE will publish statements on Friday in advance of August’s figures being released.