March Figures Reveal Drop In Homelessness

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Official statistics show the number of homeless people dropped slightly last month. The Department of Housing’s March Homelessness Report has been published and shows 9681 people were homeless in March.

It’s made up of over 6000 adults and 3646 children in emergency accommodation.The number is 126 less than February’s figures.

The figures show that there are 126 less people accessing emergency accommodation. This is made up of 17 adults, 19 families and 109 dependents.

Family presentations have also dropped by almost 50% in the Dublin region from 261 in February, to 135 in March.

National Figures March 2018
Homeless Adults 6,035
Homeless Families 1,720*
Dependents 3,646

*Adults associated with these families are included in the 6,035 figure

Minister Murphy 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. To date at least 600 individuals have been identified as having been categorised as homeless and in emergency accommodation when they are not. Some but not all of these individuals have been removed from the total numbers, but work continues with Local Authorities to gauge the total extent of the issue. 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.  The Dublin Region Homeless Executive has been doing a more detailed piece of work on reporting as part of the review which I commenced earlier in the year and I hope to publish their report and recommendations once I receive them.”

Minister Murphy pointed to the significant increase in social and private house building that is currently underway, and which is necessary for sustainable solutions.

“Earlier this month I published details of the increasing social house building programme under Rebuilding Ireland, and people will be aware from our 2017 report that Rebuilding Ireland is ahead of its social housing provision target – some 26,000 social housing tenancies were created and supported last year. This is just on the social housing side – every indicator on the private residential building side is showing dramatic increases in housing supply.”

The Minister 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% 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. Housing First is the solution here and a five-year implementation strategy for Housing First will be published in June and will contain measures to extend the programme nationally.”

Fianna Fáil Housing Spokesperson, Darragh O’Brien TD has written to Minister Eoghan Murphy to demand that no changes are made to the publication of homeless figures.

The Deputy’s letter comes following reports that the Government intend to prolong the monthly release of figures and will instead publish them once every three months.

According to the latest figures published in February, there are currently almost 10,000 homeless people in Ireland, this includes 3,755 children.

Deputy O’Brien commented, “Delaying the publication of very crucial data related to homelessness is in my mind a very clear attempt to minimise the scale of the crisis.

“It would appear as though the Government are trying to keep this rising number of homeless people out of sight and out of mind but there is no hiding from the fact that this is about more than just a number.

“These figures represent real lives, real families and children struggling to secure a roof over their heads or a comfortable place they can call home. They act as reliable proof of the Government’s weak policy on housing.

“The general public rely on the regular publication of figures to be reminded of the depth of the crisis in homelessness; that this is a problem that is not going away.

He added, “In addition to holding the Government to account, this is essential information for those in NGOs operating at the centre of the crisis as it allows them effectively respond to emerging trends.

“I am vehemently opposed to any change to the current process of publication and I have written to the Housing Minister to demand that figures on homelessness will continue to be released on a monthly basis.

“I will also be raising this issue on the floor of the Dáil later this week.

“The Government cannot bury its head in the sand over this crisis and cannot be allowed to hide the figures. Should Ireland ever get to grips with the crisis, transparency and full accountability are imperative,” Deputy O’Brien concluded.