Call for urgent action after figures show 'sharp rise' in numbers sleeping rough
A “sharp rise” in the number of people sleeping rough on the streets of Dublin must be acted on urgently, homelessness charities have warned.
There was a minimum of 87 people sleeping rough in the most recent official count, though the true figure could be 101. The latest figures were published yesterday by the Dublin Regional Homelessness Consultative Forum.
The numbers compare with 73 people in the April count, 87 last winter, 70 in the winter of 2010 and 60 in 2009. The true figure, however, is likely to be higher as one of the key “counters” was not open. This winter’s count was conducted on the night of November 13th.
Usually a “self-reporting” count is included of people using the Merchants Quay early breakfast service on the morning following the count so people who may have been missed can be included. This, however, was closed on the morning of November 14th.
“For the previous six counts over the last four years an average of 14 persons were added to the final figure,” said a statement from the consultative forum. This would bring this latest count figure to 101.
The count found 68 males, 10 females and nine unknown sleeping out on the night. Among them were 44 Irish nationals, nine non-nationals and 34 unknown.
Noting the decline in the number of non-nationals sleeping rough, spokesman for Focus Ireland said there was a “changing dynamic” and there appeared to be more Irish people sleeping rough. He particularly pointed to people being discharged from prison without adequate planning, people leaving care and people with mental health issues in need of supported housing.
The count is carried out twice a year to confirm minimum numbers and to assist the homelessness forum in “measuring effectiveness of the regional strategy”.
Focus Ireland’s chief executive, Joyce Loughnan, said the “sharp” increase “must act as an urgent warning that a growing number of people are at risk due to the recession”.
Sam McGuinness, chief executive of the Dublin Simon Community, said increased emergency accommodation provided as part of Dublin City Council’s cold weather initiative was “still insufficient”.
'If it wasn't for these guys I'd be frozen, I'd be dead'
Those bedding down for the night on Dublin pavements tell stories that could have turned out so differently.
Suzanne Hayes (41) is sitting opposite the Luas track on St Stephen’s Green, a blue sleeping bag around her lap and covering a plastic bottle filled with vodka.
A Traveller, she is in good form as she tells how she left her family because she didn’t get on with them when she was a teenager.