Ireland
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Number of homeless children reaches highest level since records began

The number of homeless children has reached its highest level since current records began in 2014, now standing at 3,895. The previous highest number was 3,873 in September 2019.

The figures are included in the most recent homelessness data, for August, were published on Friday by the Department of Housing. They show the number of people recorded as homeless fell by 156 last month, to 12,691.

This reduction however comes against a backdrop of a reporting error in Dublin, which cumulatively resulted in an overstatement of the number of single adults in homelessness by 308. This overstatement is corrected in the August figures. If it had not been the data would have shown an increase of 152.

In Dublin, where the error occurred, the total number of people in emergency accommodation in the week 21st to 27th August was 9,269. This compares with 9,484 in July before the error was corrected, appearing to indicate a fall of 215.

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The number of single adults recorded in Dublin – the cohort which has been overcounted – was 3,966 last month, compared with 4,274 in July, an apparent fall of 308.

However the number of homeless children and families continues to increase in Dublin – from 2,908 children in 1,347 families in July, to 2,964 in 1,370 families last month.

Nationally, the number of homeless children and families increased to 3,895 in 1,886 families last month, from 3,829 in 1,839 in July.

Looking at the annual comparisons total numbers in homelessness increased by 17.5 per cent, from 10,805 in August 2022.

The number of homeless children increased by 21 per cent, from 3,220 to 3,895, with the number of families up 27 per cent, from 1,483 to 1,886.

Single adult homelessness increased by 10 per cent in the year, from 5,184 to 5,690.

Commenting, Sinn Féin spokesman on housing, Eoin Ó Broin said: “‘These are truly depressing figures. The number of children living in emergency accommodation has reached an all time high. Meanwhile single person and family homelessness continues to rise.

“This Government has lost control of the housing crisis. The longer they say in Government the worse this crisis is going to get. Imagine how much worse this crisis will be if these parties continue in power for another year and a half. The only way we can end the scandal of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gaels homelessness crisis is a general election and change of Government.”

Focus Ireland said child homelessness “continues to rise primarily because families are finding it harder than ever to secure a new home and move out of homelessness. This means that not only are more families homeless, but they are also stuck in homelessness for longer”.

A national review of the recording and reporting of homelessness data has been agreed following an error which has led to the over-statement of numbers in Dublin by over 300.

The Department of Housing, in a statement on Friday, said the City and County Managers Association (CCMA) had “agreed to an external review of processes and procedures for the collection of this data and how it is verified ... across all nine regional homeless leads in order to ensure the accuracy of the data”.

The statement comes on foot of the error in the capital, where the highest numbers of homeless people are concentrated, was discovered over the summer.

The mistake, which may date back up to a year, has resulted in a cumulative overcount of homeless adults of 308 and will result in an apparent fall in homelessness when August homelessness figures are published on Friday.

Sources say the error is down to a communication gap between private emergency accommodation providers and the central register operated by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE), known as the Pass (Pathway Accommodation and Support System).

The Pass system is an online register that holds details of every individual accessing emergency accommodation in Dublin. It is accessible to all homelessness services to provide “real-time” information on homeless presentations and bed occupancy across the Dublin region.

In its statement the Department said: “The error related to data on single adults in emergency accommodation in the Dublin region. After the overstatement was identified the DRHE corrected the system to reflect the true number currently in emergency accommodation.

“The information now provided by DRHE indicates that there were 308 fewer single adults in homeless emergency accommodation in the Dublin region in August, compared to the number reported in July. This reduction is a result of the correction of the error. The subsequent adjustment to the national figures is reflected in the monthly report published on Friday 29th September.

“The Department welcomes the appointment by the DRHE of an independent person of appropriate qualification to review the data and thanks the DRHE for its forthrightness in the matter.”

It remains unclear how long the overcounting of homeless adults has been going on. While most errors have been tracked to recent months, a smaller number could date back longer.

Sources stress the discrepancies amount to less than 1 per cent of all emergency placements of single adults in the capital and the apparent fall of 308 does not equate to a genuine drop in homelessness, which remains on an upward trajectory.

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