Number of rough sleepers in Dublin rises 46 to 156 since spring

Fr Peter McVerry compares homeless problem to a ‘runaway train with no brakes’

A record 184 people were found to be sleeping rough last winter. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

A record 184 people were found to be sleeping rough last winter. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

 

The number of people sleeping rough in Dublin has risen to 156, according to the latest figures from the Dublin Region Homeless Executive.

This is an increase from 110 from the count in spring but represents a 15 per cent decrease on winter 2017 when a record 184 people were found to be sleeping rough.

Paula Byrne, CEO of Merchants Quay Ireland said: “These figures are a tragic reminder that, as we head into Christmas, Ireland still faces a housing and homeless crisis. No one should be forced to spend Christmas on the streets.”

Homeless charity Depaul says more needs to be done for single homeless people

“We need to ensure that these people have more than just an emergency bed for one night,” said CEO Kerry Anthony.

“That is why we are happy to see our Little Britain Street service, once an emergency service, transition to a fully supported temporary accommodation service. This will give service users 24 hour access and also provide each person with the support and stability required to help them move on from homeless accommodation.

“We are working hard to see all our emergency services transition in this way as we feel this is the best way to help people out of homelessness.”

Ahead of the figures, veteran campaigner Fr Peter McVerry compared homelessness to a “runaway train with no brakes”.

And he accused the Government of trying to change the narrative in relation to homelessness by claiming the problem was not especially bad in Ireland.

Writing in the Peter McVerry Trust (PMVT) annual report for 2017, Fr McVerry took issue with the notion that homelessness charities had a vested interest in the problem continuing.

He described it as a “deliberate attempt by some government and State officials to change the narrative”.

Although more than 4,000 homeless adults were housed in 2017, the number of homeless increased by 865 in the same year.

“It is difficult to be optimistic but we are committed to doing everything we can to reduce homelessness and provide permanent, lifelong housing for as many homeless people as our resources allow,” he wrote.

“Every week we see the difference which having a secure home makes to the lives of formerly homeless people. That is what makes our work worthwhile.”

Social housing units

The annual report for 2017 coincides with the launching of 13 new social housing units in Castle Court in Dublin city centre. The units have been delivered by the trust in partnership with the Housing Agency and Dublin City Council.

They were delivered as part of a €70 million rolling fund with the Housing Agency to acquire and then sell on units to approved housing bodies.

The annual report revealed that the charity increased its housing stock by 17 per cent in 2017 and worked with 4,971 people, the highest in its 34-year history. The PMVT also revealed that it opened seven new homeless services in 2017, including five family hubs and was operating in eight counties across Ireland.

The trust had a total income in 2017 of €24,477,976, of which €14,465,976 was State funding. It had total expenditure of €23,892,202.

The annual report said it had “generated a very satisfactory financial outcome” in 2017.

It also stressed that Fr McVerry, who founded the charity in 1983, has received “no salary, expenses or allowances” from the trust in his time with it.

It said the chief executive Pat Doyle is paid a salary “aligned to point four for a HSE director regional health office post under the Lansdowne Road Agreement”. It did not specify what that salary is, but the HSE pay scales list at between €98,145 and €117,485 per annum.

The trust does not pay health insurance nor provide the chief executive with a company car. Neither does it pay top ups to the chief executive or senior management team, the annual report stated.

The trust employs the equivalent of 294 people of whom 221 were full-time employees. The number of core staff grew by a third in 2017.