Minister Murphy’s statement on May homeless figures

Mr. Eoghan Murphy TD, Minister for Housing, Planning & Local Government, today, (28 June 2018) published his Department’s May Homelessness Report. The report, based on data provided by housing authorities, captures details of individuals accessing State-funded emergency accommodation arrangements that are overseen by housing authorities.

   National Figures                        May 2018                       
   Adults    6,020
   Families    1,724*
   Dependants    3,826

*Adults associated with these families are included in the 6,020 figure

The report shows an increase of 57 adults, 12 families and 137 dependants nationally over the past month, a 2% increase on the previous month.

However, these numbers do not present a single picture or upward trend for the whole country. For instance:

  • There was no increase in adults accessing emergency accommodation outside of Dublin.
  • In Dublin there was an increase of 57 adults accessing emergency accommodation, a 1% increase on the previous month.
  • The number of families accessing emergency accommodation in Dublin fell by 13 families and, significantly, presentations were also down with 79 family presentations in May.
  • However, we again saw an increase in dependants due to a small number of new families with a large number of children accessing emergency accommodation.
  • The presentation of families outside of Dublin seems to have stabilised, apart from an increase in the South West region (14 families), the specific reasons for which need further examination.

Commenting on the figures Minister Murphy said: “Any increase in people in emergency accommodation is very disappointing. However, a number of indicators are emerging which point to a continuation of the stabilisation we have been seeing in recent months. Family homelessness has always been more of a pronounced problem in Dublin than in the rest of the country, so it is encouraging that the numbers of families accessing emergency accommodation in May fell. Family presentations to homeless services in Dublin in May also fell. However, an increase of 76 dependants occurred due to the presentation of a number of large families. This is the second month in a row that we have seen this and it is worrying as exit pathways for larger families can be more difficult to secure. Outside of Dublin the picture is also one of stabilization, with no increase in adults, but a significant increase in families in only one region. This is something we need to get to the bottom of because it’s an outlier insofar as the rest of the country and Dublin are concerned. “

The Minister also referred to the recent publication of two reports he had commissioned in this area, “In recent weeks I have received two reports: one from the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, examining trends evident since the beginning of the year; and, a report from the Homeless Inter-Agency Group, established to ensure an effective and coordinated response by all of the Government Departments and Agencies involved in the delivery of homeless services.”

“My Department is examining the issues identified in the two reports and I will be bringing forward policy responses to address these issues as a matter of priority. These reports have already been discussed with the Joint Oireachtas Committee, and I will be holding a third Housing Summit with the Chief Executives from each local authority on 3 July, where tackling homelessness will be one of the topics addressed.”

As reported by Minister Murphy when homeless figures were published in recent months, a categorization issue arose in the compilation of those reports revealing errors in some instances. A survey is currently being conducted to establish whether or not any more families or individuals have been counted as being in emergency accommodation when they are in fact in homes. This work is due to conclude shortly. Detailed work is also being conducted in to the adequacy of current data collection and reporting systems.

With regard to delivering permanent housing solutions to single people who are dependant upon emergency accommodation, the Minister announced that a National Implementation Strategy for Housing First will be published in July, setting targets for the expansion of Housing First nationally.  The Minister stated “we know that Housing First is working in Dublin with a retention rate approaching 90% for the 192 people who have been housed under this new programme. Further programmes are now commencing in Cork, Galway and Limerick.  My Department is working closely with the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, Department of Health, the HSE, local authorities and NGOs on the implementation of Housing First.  The National Plan will set ambitious targets to increasing the number of supported tenancies with the local authorities and the HSE working closely to provide a coordinated delivery of housing and health supports”.