Census night will not be a “definitive” count of homelessness

The Simon Communities of Ireland says census night will not be a “definitive” count of homelessness.

The homeless charity said Census 2016 will be the second attempt made by the Central Statistics Office to develop a picture of homelessness across the country — the first was in 2011.

“But while this count is another piece in this jigsaw, it will have limitations which must be acknowledged from the outset,” said Simon’s national spokeswoman, Niamh Randall.

“Critically, it will not be a definitive count of homelessness but a count of those in emergency accommodation and those who are sleeping rough known to service providers, such as the Simon Communities.”

Ms Randall said the census will not count people in accommodation not designated for homeless persons or those in squats and cars who are not known to service providers.

Also left out will be the “hidden homeless” — those staying with friends or family, often in overcrowded and unsuitable conditions because they have no home of their own.

The CSO has said every person in Ireland must be included on a census form on Sunday, April 24, including homeless people.

Simon’s national spokeswoman, Niamh Randall
Simon’s national spokeswoman, Niamh Randall

Enumerators, together with service providers, would count those sleeping rough and those in private emergency accommodation, including hotels and B&Bs.

Senior statistician with the CSO, Deirdre Cullen, said Census 2011 counted 3,808 homeless people, of whom 64 were rough sleepers.

Ms Cullen, who was speaking on RTÉ radio yesterday, said three enumerators would deal exclusively with homeless individuals and families in B&Bs and hotels.

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