Rise in elderly, children with no homes

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy

The Government has been warned it will be “held to account” for the ongoing homeless crisis after new figures showed a sharp rise in the number of homeless children and elderly people.

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin and Independents 4 Change TD Tommy Broughan criticised Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, accusing him and the Cabinet of a “blatant manipulation” of the figures.

During Leaders’ Questions, Mr Ó Broin said the reality is that homelessness has gotten significantly worse under the Fine Gael-led Government.

Citing official figures, he said child homelessness has increased by a “shocking” 74% since 2011 and 30% since Mr Murphy became housing minister two years ago, while the number of people aged over 65 who are homeless has risen by 60% and 27% over the same respective periods.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney repeatedly defended a visibly annoyed Mr Murphy over the claims, saying while the Government is acutely aware of the “emergency” situation, it is doing everything it can to address the crisis.

Mr Ó Broin said little is taking place outside the “Leinster House bubble” and that thousands of people are failing to receive the help they need.

“There are more homeless adults and children today than when the Government took office and they are spending longer periods in emergency accommodation,” he said.

“Does the Tánaiste accept that despite the economic recovery, the homeless crisis is getting worse? Does he accept the Government’s housing policy is failing, and will he commit to ending the blatant manipulation of the homeless figures by Minister Murphy?”

Mr Coveney said there is an “absolute acceptance” the homeless situation is now a crisis, but he insisted that the Government is offering a “comprehensive” response.

Urging opposition politicians not to mislead the public, he said “last year nearly 26,000 people were provided with a social home by the State” and that action is being taken to address the homelessness crisis.

Despite Mr Coveney’s defence, Mr Broughan was similarly critical, warning ministers that they will be “held to account” for the homelessness crisis and allegations that official figures are being “manipulated”

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