Eoghan Murphy hit out at the opposition, claiming they are “so desperate” to see the numbers go up “that they think we should be counting people who are not in emergency accommodation or in homelessness as homeless.”
Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin accused Mr Murphy of “knowingly manipulating the March homeless figures”.
The March figures revealed there were 9,681 people in emergency accommodation.
However 600 people were removed from the homeless figures after Mr Murphy said a number of local authorities wrongly categorised individuals and families living in local authority-owned or leased housing stock.
Sinn Féin deem these people to be in emergency accommodation as they do not have a tenancy.
Mr Ó Broin said:
These people, including many families with children, are homeless and are in emergency accommodation arrangements funded by councils’ homeless services. The councils in question received an instruction to remove them from the March homeless report.
During some robust Dáil exchanges, Mr Murphy stressed that none of the people are in hubs, hostels, hotels, or other emergency accommodation.
“They are in private rented accommodation, in some instances. They never went into homelessness.
“We should not count them as homeless because it does a disservice to those who actually are homeless. That is where our focus should be and not on Sinn Féin’s political antics.”
A spokesman for the minister said that when finalising the March homeless data with a number of local authorities, it emerged that in a number of areas, people living in local authority owned or leased houses, including in some instances people renting in the private sector but in receipt of social housing supports, were being categorised as being in emergency accommodation.
“Against this backdrop, the council and the department agreed that individuals and families that the council has arranged to be accommodated in private houses or apartments leased by the council should not be classified as being in emergency accommodation.”
The spokesman said “given the classification issue that has arisen” the department will be working with councils to establish the appropriate funding programme to be used for this accommodation”.