'Statistics are unreliable and incomplete': European report scathing of Ireland's homelessness policies

'Statistics are unreliable and incomplete': European report scathing of Ireland's homelessness policies
File photo

A report by the European Commission has given a scathing analysis of Ireland's homelessness policies.

The report is critical of the government's reliance on the private sector to deliver social housing solutions and said that there are "serious gaps" in the definition and recording of the extent of homelessness.

Monthly releases of data "do not cover rough sleeping, hidden homelessness, those in long-term supported accommodation or families in domestic violence refuges," according to the report, which was compiled by the European Social Policy Network (ESPN), a body established by the European Commission to provide "high-quality and timely independent information, advice, analysis and expertise on social policy issues in the European Union".

According to the most recent government statistics published, there were 10,275 people recorded as homeless. More than one-third of these are children and the number of families has increased by 178% since June 2015.

The ESPN report described Ireland's "operational definition of homelessness" as "narrow and contested" as it omits those staying with family or friends, living in squats, staying in domestic violence refuges or sleeping rough.

"Housing vulnerability is much less recognised, which among other things means that prevention is not prominent in the Irish approach," it states.

"The current reality in Ireland is that the statistics are unreliable and incomplete".

ESPN also notes that there "is an almost exclusive reliance on the voluntary sector" for the provision of homelessness services in Ireland.

It also criticises the government's recording of statistics related to re-housing, noting that it leads to inflated figures for the numbers apparently leaving homelessness.

"Re-housing in Ireland used to mean people moving into a local authority housing but over time this has come to mean anyone moving into anywhere away from a shelter," the report said.

To give an extreme case, if a homeless family were re-housed from a shelter into HAP, was subsequently evicted twice in the same year, this would be counted as three successful rehousings.

The report is critical of stock and supply and recommends an increase in the number of local authority builds and strengthening of rights for private renters.

Reliance on the private rented market to provide social housing solutions has grown and grown.

"Against this backdrop it is difficult to see the Irish situation being significantly improved until the low end of the housing market is again supplied with local authority homes," it notes.

More on this topic

Children presenting to homeless shelters unable to chew or swallow solid foodChildren presenting to homeless shelters unable to chew or swallow solid food

Focus Ireland: More social housing needed to solve homelessness crisisFocus Ireland: More social housing needed to solve homelessness crisis

1,003 homeless children seeking help- 40% increase since last year1,003 homeless children seeking help- 40% increase since last year

No child should be eating dinner on the street, Tánaiste tells DáilNo child should be eating dinner on the street, Tánaiste tells Dáil


More in this Section

Man gets partially suspended sentence for twice attacking ex-partner in front of their son at children's hospitalMan gets partially suspended sentence for twice attacking ex-partner in front of their son at children's hospital

'I am free of his disgusting and sick secret,' says victim after his older brother is jailed for decade of sexual abuse and rape'I am free of his disgusting and sick secret,' says victim after his older brother is jailed for decade of sexual abuse and rape

Varadkar: New Brexit deal is final offer from EUVaradkar: New Brexit deal is final offer from EU

'If I wasn't a whistleblower then I'd have gotten a commendation,' Garda tells Disclosures Tribunal'If I wasn't a whistleblower then I'd have gotten a commendation,' Garda tells Disclosures Tribunal


Lifestyle

It never ceases to stop me in my tracks when I hear my husband intone to our children one of the oft overused phrases from my stockpile of, “Can you just not?” categories.Lindsay Woods: If my children feel I’m doing it wrong then I must be doing it right

In honour of our Made in Munster special edition, Joe McNamee creates a four-course meal showcasing the best produce from the province. And there’s a lot to celebrate.The Menu's Made in Munster six course dinner - One from each county

More From The Irish Examiner