Changes to how homeless figures are monitored causing 'a lot of confusion'

Changes to how homeless figures are monitored causing 'a lot of confusion'
Mike Allen.

By Vivienne Clarke

Update: The head of advocacy with Focus Ireland, Mike Allen, says that the changes in the way homeless figures are monitored has caused unnecessary confusion.

Many people who are no longer deemed homeless still have support workers and are “counted” when they move out of homelessness, said Mr Allen.

“The Minister gratuitously introduced a lot of confusion. There was no reason to change,” he told RTE’s News at One.

He was replying to a question about the accuracy of homeless figures following claims by Sinn Féin that there are 12,805 people accessing emergency accommodation while the latest Department of Housing figures says there were 9,724 accessing emergency accommodation in October - including 3,725 children.

Mr Allen said he did not wish to be drawn into politics, but it was his experience that the figure was “well above 10,000.”

He pointed out that there are now 4,000 emergency beds in Dublin, 50% more than there were in 2016, but providing emergency beds is not the answer to homelessness, he said.

Homes are the answer. They are not building them fast enough or in sufficient numbers.

Mr Allen also said there had been “some scaremongering” about families having to move from hotels that will close for Christmas. All the families involved will be moved to other emergency accommodation, he said.

Earlier: Sinn Féin claims nearly 3,000 hidden from homeless figures

Around a quarter of homeless parents are aged between 18 and 24.

New research commissioned by Focus Ireland shows they are often stigmatised and find it extremely difficult to find a home.

Changes to how homeless figures are monitored causing 'a lot of confusion'

Some young parents often leave their own home because of overcrowding and conflict.

But then they find it extremely difficult to find somewhere to rent as they have no references for landlords, so they end up in emergency accommodation.

Niamh Lambe from Focus Ireland said young families struggle in hotel rooms.

She said: "They are living in very cramped conditions. They may have been displaced from their home of origin, they may be travelling across the city to get to schools.

"Their cooking facilities may not be there, no space to store anything, to do homework and so on."

The latest homeless figures show just over 9,700 people were in emergency accommodation in October but Sinn Féin claims the figure is around 3,000 more than that.

Their housing spokesperson Eoin O’Broin is accusing the Government of deliberately hiding some people from the statistics.

Mr O'Broin said: "So these people are homeless and all of the State agencies, bar the Department and all of the academic experts and NGOs who work in this field are saying the same thing."

When it comes to young homeless parents, the author of this Focus Ireland research, Dr Sharon Lambert, said society needs to stop saying "well why did they have children if they can’t afford it?" and show some compassion.

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