Opposition politicians and charity organisations have raised concerns as official figures show the numbers living in emergency accommodation is at a record high.

The number of homeless people increased by 19 to an all-time high of 7,167 last month.

2,407 of those were children, down 98 from December.

The overall number of families in homelessness dropped by 33 to 1,172 families.

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney said the figures showed the success of the drive to ensure that more families were exiting homelessness than entering it.

Mr Coveney said the figures "reflect the work that is being done to ensure that sufficient beds are in place for rough sleepers and the drive to ensure that more families are exiting homelessness than are entering it".

"Last year in excess of 2,700 families exited homelessness and the level of ambition is greater again this year."

Sinn Féin spokesman on housing Eoin Ó Broin said the changes between last month and the previous one could not be labelled a success.

Mr Ó Broin said the marginal drop in the number of children in homelessness is welcome but added that "this is clearly at the expense of single person households".

Mr Coveney acknowledged that the department is "front-loading our efforts to ensure that the existing group of families accommodated in hotels move out as quickly as possible so that by mid-2017 hotels will only be used as emergency accommodation in exceptional circumstances".

A department spokesperson added that the plan is to move families out of commercial hotels into a range of housing solutions - social housing, Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), voids returned to use and homes being purchased by the Housing Agency.

"Across the whole range of social housing is what is planned. This year we will spend €1.3bn on the social housing programme."

Focus Ireland's Director of Advocacy has said large numbers of families continue to lose their homes, with the charity's own monthly figures for Dublin showing that 87 families with 151 children became homeless in January.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mike Allen said unless the wave of people becoming homeless can be stopped, the problem will never end.

He added that greater delivery of homes was needed.

The Simon Communities in Ireland said it was disappointing to see the numbers of people in emergency accommodation remain over 7,000.

Francis Doherty, Head of Communications at Peter McVerry Trust, said that new housing supply must recognise the huge need for single and two-person units and not just three and four-bed homes for larger families.