The Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has defended the Government's Rebuilding Ireland programme as he appeared at an Oireachtas committee.

The minister was addressing the Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government as the issue of housing dominates the political agenda.

Mr Murphy said: "Some commentators on homelessness, be they expert or not, would suggest that nothing is being done; that policy is failing completely. But that is untrue."

When challenged by Senator Collette Kelleher about the impact homeless is having on children, the minister said: "Of course we're letting children down."

Senator Kelleher also told the committee that she has heard anecdotally that some children living in emergency accommodation are not getting their vaccines.

The minister was also challenged about one night only accommodation, saying "it isn't policy but it has to be there".

He also defended the HAP scheme (Housing Assistance Payment), saying "it works for many people due to the flexibility that's there."

Minister Murphy acknowledged that there were not enough homes and defended the hub programme, which he said reduces the time families spend in emergency accommodation.

He also told the committee that 23,000 homes were delivered over the last 12 months, but he will not be able to confirm until next year if they reach the 25,000 target set under the Rebuilding Ireland programme.

But Senator Murnane O'Connor told the minister that Rebuilding Ireland "is not working" and that the "right type of houses are not being built".

The minister told the committee: "It should be noted that it is my intention to advance a second Rental Bill shortly, which will further enhance tenancies protections, including in the context of receivership situations."

When questioned about vacant properties in Dublin, Minister Murphy said he "doesn't know where Dublin City Council's priorities are" when it comes to the department's Vacant Properties Programme.

He said the council had been given €43m over the past number of years for the programme.

Minister Murphy says the RTB plans to conduct a survey next year to learn the experience of renters and as part of that there will be a question about allegations of 'sex for rent' approaches by landlords.

The issue was raised in the Dáil by Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger, who said the issue of sex being accepted as rent was becoming a reality in Ireland.

The RTB will liaise with the Rape Crisis Centre to make sure that the appropriate questions are asked in the survey.

Minister Murphy said he was aware that the work was already under way and the details of the survey would be published.

Today, the Dáil voted in favour of Sinn Féin's rent freeze bill by large majority of 83 votes to 36.

While it proceeds to the next stage, the Government has indicated it remains opposed to the proposal and it will have the power to prevent going further.