Number of recorded homeless in State falls marginally

Current reporting model needs to be reformed due to errors, Minister says

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said the level of homelessness remained “a challenge”. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said the level of homelessness remained “a challenge”. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

The number of homeless people in the State fell slightly in March compared with the previous month.

However, significantly more adults and children have sought emergency accommodation in recent weeks when compared with 12 months previously.

According to data released by the Department of Housing on Monday, 6,035 adults and 3,646 children in 1,720 families were homeless in the week beginning March 19th.

At the end of February, 9,807 people were homeless, including 3,755 children in 1,739 families.

In February 2017, 7,421 people were homeless, including 2,546 children in 1,239 families.

The report is based on data provided by housing authorities, and captures details of individuals accessing State-funded emergency accommodation arrangements.

The figures show 126 fewer people are accessing emergency accommodation. This is made up of 17 adults, 19 families and 109 dependents. Family presentations have also dropped by almost 50 per cent in the Dublin region, from 261 in February to 135 in March.

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said the level of homelessness remained “a challenge” but he welcomed the drop in the number of families presenting to emergency accommodation service in Dublin.

‘Miscategorisations’

He also said “significant miscategorisations” had been uncovered in recent weeks which had “overstated the total number of people that are in emergency accommodation in the State today”.

He said a “number of local authorities have erroneously categorised individuals and families living in local authority owned or leased housing stock, including in some instances people renting in the private sector but in receipt of social housing supports, as being in emergency accommodation”.

Mr Murphy said at least 600 individuals had been categorised as homeless and in emergency accommodation when that was not the case.

“It is quite clear that the current reporting model needs to be reformed as such errors undermine our ability to properly understand the extent and nature of the problem, as well as inform policy decisions around solutions,” Mr Murphy said.

Mr Murphy also referred to the reduction in rough sleepers recorded in the Dublin Region Homeless Executive’s spring count.

“In the recent count of rough sleepers taken in the Dublin region, we saw a 40 per cent reduction since last November – there are now just over 100 people sleeping rough in Dublin, in many ways the most vulnerable people when we talk about homelessness,” he said.

Homelessness and children’s charities welcomed the decrease in figures, but signalled caution.

Peter McVerry Trust, the national housing and homeless charity, said the goal now is to make sure the decrease is followed by more frequent and substantial decreases in the numbers of people in homeless services.

And children’s charity Barnardos said the numbers of children in homeless accommodation should not be overlooked. The charity launched a petition calling on the Government to ensure that no child spends more than six months in emergency accommodation.