'Nothing is adding up' - Charity asks for clarification on December's drop in homelessness numbers

'Nothing is adding up' - Charity asks for clarification on December's drop in homelessness numbers
Brian McLaughlin from Inner City Helping Homeless.

The latest homeless figures released by the Department of Housing have come under scrutiny.

They showed there was a record fall of 717 people living in emergency accommodation in December.

However, a charity has asked for clarification after it suspects the report included adjusted figures.

Brian McLaughlin from Inner City Helping Homeless fears some homeless people have been re-categorized.

Mr McLaughlin said: "According to their own report the number of families is down 94 in Dublin, however that doesn't add up to their own report which states there were 54 families less in Dublin according to the quarterly report.

"That would indicate to us, as has happened previously, that maybe some people have been reclassified from the homeless report.

"There are a number of questions that need answering from the Minister here because nothing is adding up in regards to these two reports."

The charity said that they had noticed a huge difference in the number of people listed as being in a TEA (Temporary Emergency Accommodation), which has “no (or minimal) supports on site”.

They said: "The increase in this particular section was 3,146%. It didn’t add up alongside the number of people that were removed in the space of a month.

"Upon further investigation on both the Department’s website and the Rebuild Ireland website we noticed that the report had actually been updated due to miscalculation, however this update was never communicated to either homeless charities nor the media based on the feedback we have received.

"What is clear from our investigation was that the first report was an error due to invalid data entry."

The charity said that the figures in the first report had under the PEA/STA (Private Emergency Accommodation/Supported Temporary Accommodation) column the total of people in PEA, so should have been added together.

'Nothing is adding up' - Charity asks for clarification on December's drop in homelessness numbers

Instead they were put in incorrect columns and not added which explained the increase of 3,146% in the TEA column.

They said: "However, with a general election a week away this wasn’t communicated to anyone."

'Nothing is adding up' - Charity asks for clarification on December's drop in homelessness numbers

They also said that they compared the Q4 report with the December report, and concluded that it does not show how the 717 drop in homeless people in December, when compared to the November report's figures, was possible.

They said: "Using Dublin as an example, the December report stated there were 94 less families homeless in Dublin.

"When we look at the quarterly report from the department it shows the number of families entering homelessness each month versus the number of families exiting homelessness.

"According to their own report 44 new families became homeless in December while 98 families exited homelessness which is a difference of 54 families not 94.

'Nothing is adding up' - Charity asks for clarification on December's drop in homelessness numbers

"This has raised alarm bells with regards to the entire report as the last time we saw a decline like this the Department had reclassified 1,606 people and removed them from the homeless list despite some councils stating they disagreed with the decision."

They said they have submitted a freedom of information request to clarify both how so many people exited emergency accommodation in December and why the errors in the original published report was not communicated correctly.

Mr McLoughlin said: "While December shows a year on year trend of less presentations into homelessness due to the Christmas period it doesn’t add up to 717 people coming off the report.

"The report for December stated 94 less families were homeless in Dublin yet this doesn’t correlate with their quarterly report which stated there were 44 new families entering homelessness as 98 families exited, a difference of 54 families.

"We have no faith in the Department figures which already exclude rough sleepers, families in Women’s Aid shelters, families in Direct Provision and couch surfers and with an election this week it is clear that figures need to be independently taken. The same applies to the Department counting new builds when an ESB/Water connection goes into the new property."

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