There were 459 fewer people in emergency accommodation in May compared to April, according to the Department of Housing.

There are 8,876 homeless individuals, including dependents.

In a statement, the department said there were 173 fewer adults, 286 fewer dependents and 122 fewer families in emergency accommodation in May.

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy described the latest figures as "encouraging".

He said: "Significantly there are fewer families in emergency accommodation today than at any point in the last three years.

"The number of families and children in emergency accommodation fell in 2019, the first annual fall in a number of years."

Mr Murphy praised the "good work of those in homeless services" that "has continued throughout the Covid-19 crisis."

He said the focus must remain on those who need help to secure a permanent home.

The Simon Community has welcomed the latest figures, saying it was the fourth consecutive month that numbers have reduced and they are now the lowest since December 2014.

But it cautioned that much of this improvement could be due to emergency legislation preventing evictions because of Covid-19.

Louisa Santoro of the Mendicity Institution has expressed concern at the growing numbers in Private Emergency Accommodation (PEA), now over 50%, which she says do not have support services.