Louth TD Gerry Adams has condemned the refusal by the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy to provide a County by County breakdown on the number of homeless families and children. Teachta Adams described the failure to provide this statistic as “symptomatic of a government which seeks to evade its responsibilities to provide housing by refusing to provide the extent of the problem county by county across the state.”
Gerry Adams said:
“The official figures produced by the Department of Housing cover regions. Louth is part of the North East region which includes Louth, Monaghan and Cavan. The most recent report for October revealed there are 144 adults and 47 children living in homeless accommodation in the North East. The report also states that 131 homeless adults are from Louth, 3 are from Monaghan and 10 from Cavan. There are 27 families and 47 homeless children in the North East region.
The statistics do not tell us how many homeless families there are in Louth or any of the counties or how many of the 47 homeless children are in Louth.
I wrote to the Minister asking for this information and in a PQ response he simply emailed me the most recent October report on Homelessness from the Department which does not answer the questions I asked.
This is a serious gap of information which means we do not have a complete picture of the homeless crisis as it impacts on counties. We know there are over 10,500 homeless citizens, almost four thousand of whom are children. As we try to understand the impact of this on people and seek to provide solutions to this crisis the more information available the better.
I intend writing again to the Minister for Housing asking that the department provide this information which must already be in their possession.
Minister Murphy has failed in his responsibility as Housing Minister to provide a coherent strategy to tackle the homelessness and rent crisis, as well as producing a credible public housing built programme.
Louth TD Gerry Adams has expressed his “deep concern at the continuing increase in the numbers of people in Louth who are homeless.”
Teachta Adams said: “Clearly the Government’s housing strategy, supported by Fianna Fáil, is not working.”
Gerry Adams said:
“The March homelessness figures show that adult, child and family homelessness have all increased since February and have increased substantially over the last year. According to the Department of Housing there are now 10,305 people officially classified as homeless. This includes 3,821 children. These figures do not reflect the real level of homelessness because of government efforts to massage the numbers.
These are the worst ever figures for homelessness and especially for children without a home. Since March last year the number suffering homelessness across the state has risen by over 600 from 9,681.
The figures for Louth and the north east region are even more stark. In March 2018 there were 60 people officially confirmed as homeless in Louth, Monaghan and Cavan. One year later that figure has almost trebled to 173. Louth had 54 people suffering from homelessness in March 2018. Today that figure is 156.
Clearly the government’s housing strategy – Rebuilding Ireland – is not working. In the last eight years there has been a 490 per cent increase in the number of homeless children in the state. Since 2016 family homelessness has increased by forty per cent. Pensioner homelessness has also witnessed a dramatic increase of eighty per cent.
There needs to be a radical change of direction by government of its housing policy. It is not working. On May 18th the state wide Raise The Roof demonstration in Dublin presents an important opportunity to demonstrate public anger as the housing scandal in this state.”
Once again Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne has called on Louth County Council to clarify the county’s status in regards to homelessness.
The Local Authority’s latest Housing Progress report saw a significant decrease in numbers presenting as homeless across the board in Drogheda, Dundalk and Mid-Louth forcing Cllr Joanna Byrne to seek clarification if this was “a true reflection of our homelessness situation or a massaging of the figures as a result of ‘re-categorisation.”
Cllr Byrne said “Louth County Council was instructed recently by the Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy, to remove a number of people from this report who were placed in local authority owned or leased housing stock as emergency accommodation.”
This recent instruction prompted Cllr Byrne to promise publicly that she would hold officials to account over what she termed the ‘sheer manipulation of the reality of homelessness in Louth.”
Speaking at this month’s Council meeting, Cllr Byrne told officials “We now have a report in front of us that is not a true reflection of the situation. It fathoms me how you expect us to assess the current state of play in regards to homelessness when you are re-categorising the reports and not including the figures you have removed. I am asking you to change the report for next month and include a new section that reflects the number of people that have been removed and placed in this type of accommodation. It is still emergency accommodation regardless of who owns the properties and until a long term tenancy through social housing or HAP (Housing Assistance Payment) is secured, they remain as homeless, no matter what way you want to dress it up!”
Joe McGuinness, Director of Service’s for Housing in Louth recognised Cllr Byrne’s concerns and assured her he would look to rectify the report for the next meeting.
Sinn Féin Cllr Joanna Byrne last week asked for clarification from the SEO for Housing at Drogheda’s Municipal District meeting as to why the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government’s November Homelessness report shows practically double the number of homeless adults than that released from Louth County Council for the same period.
Having not got any satisfactory explanations for said question the Sinn Féin team again raised the query yesterday at the full council monthly meeting, to which the Director of Services for housing had no answer.
The governments homeless report states for the November period there were 116 homeless adults in the North East, 112 of them in Louth. This is without factoring in the number of children homeless. Louth County Councils combined figure was 64. Even at that both reports do not factor in rough sleepers, or the hidden homeless: those people sleeping on sofas and floors of family and friends.
Cllr Byrne says: “There is a huge discrepancy between the information being provided to us by the governments housing department and Louth County Councils housing department. It is imperative we get the correct information relayed to us so we get a clear view of how the situation stands. We need a true reflection of the homeless situation in the county and I will be pursuing this with the council officials until we get clarity on it”.