Agency says homelessness falling in Dublin

 

The elimination of homelessness in Dublin within six years has been announced as a "core priority" by the Homeless Agency. Patsy McGarry reports.

Launching Making it Home, an action plan on homelessness in Dublin 2004 to 2010, the agency's director, Ms Mary Higgins, said yesterday that homeless numbers in the city have stabilised to such a degree that there is no provision for more emergency accommodation in the new plan.

It would focus instead on the provision of housing, and on preventing people becoming homeless. Over the past three years there has been an increase of 1,000 in emergency beds available in Dublin, which includes 100 for rough sleepers.

Last year €58 million was spent on accommodation and other services for the homeless in Dublin, with funding for voluntary bodies in the area up from €8 million in 2000 to over €26 million in 2004.

The agency said yesterday that over three-quarters of the priority targets in its first homeless action plan, Shaping the Future, introduced three years ago, have now been met. Speaking at the launch of the new action plan yesterday the Minister for housing, Mr Noel Ahern, acknowledged the progress made and commended the dedication and commitment of frontline staff across all homeless services.

He reiterated the Government's commitment to tackling homelessness and noted the significant increase by his Department in funding related services. Over three-quarters of Ireland's homeless are in Dublin, 80 per cent in the city centre area. The number of people sleeping rough in Dublin has dropped from almost 300 to under 100, the agency revealed yesterday. Their figures also indicated that 80 per cent of the homeless are single, with the majority male.

Between 30 and 40 per cent have mental health problems and as many again suffer from alcohol or drug dependency problems.

Ms Higgins said people could become institutionalised into homelessness "within a matter of weeks", while a small number could be described as "entrenched homeless". These were usually heavy drinkers or drug abusers.