Department of Housing and Dublin Regional Homeless Executive disagree over homeless figures - Eoin Ó Broin TD
Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin TD has called on the Department for Housing reverse removal of 1,606 adults and children from their monthly homeless figures.
The call was made following clear disagreements between the Department, the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and key homeless experts at today’s Housing Committee.
Speaking today after the Housing Committee looked at the issue, Deputy Ó Broin said:
“This morning the Housing Committee had the opportunity to hear from the Department of Housing, the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive and Prof Eoin O’Sullivan from Trinity College on the homeless figures and the ongoing re-categorisation of homeless families.
“We also relieved written submissions from Focus Ireland, Simon, Merchants Quay, Barnardo’s and correspondence from a number of Local Authorities affected by the homeless numbers controversy.
“To date 1,606 people have been removed from the monthly homeless reports as the Department has claimed they have been miscategorised as homeless, when there they are not.
“Despite local authorities such as Louth and Galway County Council maintaining that the people removed from the figures as still categorised as homeless, the Department is still maintaining that they are not.
“The Department said today at Committee after I asked if they believe that these people were still in fact homeless: 'They’re not homeless. They’re being accommodated in an own door premises'.
"However the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive in response to the same question said: 'Yes I would consider that they are still homeless, because they are accessing homeless services. They’re not counted as they are in emergency accommodation for the purpose of our monthly reports because they’re, to use your own words, in a hybrid situation in relation to accommodation, they’re not in the normal form of emergency accommodation but they are accessing homeless services'.
“The NGO submissions also raised significant concerns. The Simon Communities said the re-categorisation is 'a cause for concern'. Further they state it, 'has created confusion and caused a range of problems'.
“Focus Ireland have said it is unclear and has also stated that the fact that the re-categorisation wasn’t retrospectively applied backwards to give us a proper read of it leads further weight to the 'suspicion that the underlying motive was to produce a lower total figure'.
“It is now clear from what we heard this morning that there is no agreement between the Department of Housing on one hand and the Local Authorities, the DRHE and the homeless NGOs over the re-categorisation.
“The Department must now bring together the Homeless Consultative Committee and its data sub group, which should include the Department of Housing and other government stakeholders including Tusla and the Reception and Integration Agency in the Department of Justice, Local Authorities, NGOs, the CSO and academics to agree once and for all for the homeless reports.
“The CSO should then take responsibility for compiling and publishing the monthly reports.”