The official Government figure now stands 9,527

Updated 17:30

The Department of Housing has confirmed that 1,606 people were removed from its official homeless figures following three ‘re-categorisations’ this year.

According to the latest figures released today, there were 9,527 people accessing emergency accommodation in Ireland in August - a drop of 364 on the previous month.

In a statement however, the Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy confirmed that a number of people were removed from this month's figures after further "categorisation errors" were uncovered.

A total of 741 people were removed from the official count this month – including 490 children.

It follows similar re-categorisations in the reports published in March and April - when a total of 865 people were taken out of the figures – including 491 children.

 

Minister Murphy said this was because local authorities had categorised some people as being in emergency accommodation when they were actually living in local authority-owned properties – or properties secured by the local authorities “under other arrangements.”

He said a department review of the figures carried out over the summer had identified further examples of this practice - removing more people from the figures.

This evening the Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) charity said it had “major concerns over the removal of so many people” from the list.

It said that they may be in properties owned or leased by local authorities but they “have no security of tenure in these units therefore haven’t had their housing needs met by the Department.”

ICHH chief executive Anthony Flynn said Minister Murphy "cannot redefine the word ‘homeless’ at his own leisure."

“The Minister’s abacus is now broken,” he said. “These figures just do not wash.”

“The constant reclassification by the Department of Housing shows a very disingenuous attempt in reducing overall figures and is cause for serious concern.

“The Minister cannot use these people as political pawns in order to keep the overall homeless figure below 10,000 people.”

He said this month’s official figure highlights increases in homelessness across the board year-on-year – with the overall figure up 15% on August 2017 and the number of children up 21% over the same period.

 

Homeless and drugs charity Merchants Quay Ireland warned that the figures are incomplete as they do not include a range of the most vulnerable groups in society.

It said the most recent rough sleeper count in Dublin showed 110 rough sleepers who were not included in the count - giving a total of at least 9,637.

The charity’s co-founder Tony Geoghegan said there other groups are also not included, “such as women and children in domestic violence shelters, people in direct provision and others who are also homeless.”

“The homeless crisis is not unsolvable, but ultimately the solution requires the provision of sufficient social and affordable housing," he said.

“The Government has a real moral test to hold to its commitment to deliver the required level of housing needed, while also focusing on the immediate needs of the thousands of men, women and children still caught in homelessness today.”