Cllr Joanna Byrne seeks clarity on Local Authority’s reporting of Homelessness

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.