Minister refutes figure manipulation claims in light of calls to apologise over homelessness figures

The Housing Minister has been urged to apologise after being accused of deliberately manipulating the latest homelessness figures.

The release for March showed a slight drop in the number of people in emergency accomodation.

Eoghan Murphy (pictured) said around 600 people were re-categorised because they were wrongly deemed to be homeless.

Reports today suggest the Minister told local authorities to take them out of the overall numbers.

Sinn Féin's Housing Spokesperson, Eoin O'Broin, is calling for an apology.

"I've accused the Minister directly of knowingly manipulating the figures to ensure that they don't breach the 10,000 mark, to do so to protect his own political reputation," he said.

I have to say, I think it's an astonishing insult to the families who are homeless.

"I think it's an insult to the council staff, to the NGOs who are working very hard to tackle this crisis."

Minister Eoghan Murphy strongly denied claims, however, that homeless figures have been manipulated to make sure the numbers stay under 10,000.

Speaking in the Dail today he said none of the 600 people taken off the March homeless list are in hubs, b&bs or hotels or any other type of emergency accommodation.

A spokesman for the Minister said: “From engagements with a number of local authorities, including Louth County Council, in the context of finalising the March homelessness data, it emerged that in a number of areas, 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.”

The Department of Housing is now engaging with all local authorities to gauge the full extent of the issue and to ensure that all local authorities are reporting on a consistent basis.

The spokesman added: “Against that background, the Council and the Department agreed that individuals and families that the Council had arranged to be accommodated in private houses/ apartments leased by the Council should not be classified as being resident in emergency accommodation. This agreed position has been confirmed by Louth County Council.

“The Department supports the approach of Councils, including Louth County Council, in accommodating individuals/families in houses/apartments, thereby minimising the time spent in emergency accommodation

“The Department understands that Louth County Council may have been funding some of the leased private dwellings involved from section 10 funding, however, given the classification issue that has arisen, the Department will be working with the Council to establish whether section 10 or one of the range of other funding programmes, such as the leasing programme may be more appropriate.”

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