Ireland

O’Broin calls for wider count of homelessness to ‘reflect true numbers’

A woman walks past the tent of a homeless person on Grafton Street in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)
A woman walks past the tent of a homeless person on Grafton Street in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA) A woman walks past the tent of a homeless person on Grafton Street in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

A truer set of figures should be kept to monitor homelessness in Ireland, a Sinn Fein TD has said.

Monthly updates on figures of those in emergency accommodation are published by the Department of Housing.

The most recent figures indicated there were 12,827 people in emergency accommodation in September, representing a 1.1% increase on the previous month.

Sinn Fein TD Eoin O’Broin has estimated there are more than 20,000 people who are homeless when people in accommodation not funded by the state and rough sleepers are taken into account.

He has urged the Government to produce an independent report that includes those housed by other organisations and rough sleepers.

Sinn Fein TD Eoin O Broin
Sinn Fein TD Eoin O Broin Sinn Fein TD Eoin O Broin speaking outside Leinster House in Dublin (David Young/PA)

He told reporters in Dublin: “Since 2018, most years I’ve published a report asking what is the true level of homelessness in the state, and the reason I do that is because every month, the department of housing publishes their homeless figures – that‘s the number of adults and children in emergency accommodation funded by the Department of Housing.

“However, we know that there are other people who are in emergency accommodation funded by other government departments or some that don’t receive any state funding and therefore, the purpose of this kind of report is to track that.”

As well as the numbers in emergency accommodation increasing, he said other types of homelessness are also on the rise.

He said there are at least 599 women and children in domestic violence refuges funded by Tusla and the Department of Children, about 105 men and women in emergency accommodation run by religious institutions – not funded by the state.

He said there is not a full count of rough sleepers across the country, but there are estimated to be more than 80 rough sleepers in Dublin.

Mr O’Broin said there are about 5,500 people who were in the international protection system, having been given leave to remain but who cannot get out of direct provision.

“So when you count all of those individuals up, there are almost 20,000 people who should be officially categorised as homeless,” he said.

“And of course, that’s before we even start talking about sofa surfers, and people who aren’t counted in the system.

“I’ve been calling since 2018 for the Government to produce an independent report that categorises all of this properly, and the way to do that is to reconvene the homeless consultative committees data subgroup, agree a methodology and then allow an independent body such as the CSO, or housing agency to then publish the reports regularly.”

He added: “It shouldn’t be left to a TD to put in parliamentary questions and and compile this report on a regular basis, preferably monthly, an independent body should publish accurate numbers.”

He said the Irish Government has signed up to a commitment to end long-term homelessness and the need to sleep rough by 2030 in the Lisbon Declaration, but questioned how the objective can be met with the current system.

“We need an accurate report, we need to know the total numbers of people experiencing homelessness at any point in time and then we also need to see a plan from government to show year on year from now to 2030 how they’re going to reduce that number and achieve the objective of ending long term homelessness and the need to sleep rough,” he said.