Demand for emergency beds among Dublin homeless growing

Dramatic rent inflation in capital ensuring people remain homeless for longer periods

The doorway in Molesworth street where Jonathan  Corrie, who was homeless, was found dead. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

The doorway in Molesworth street where Jonathan Corrie, who was homeless, was found dead. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/The Irish Times

 

The need for emergency beds among people sleeping rough in the capital continues to grow, despite the provision of almost 300 additional beds before Christmas, according to a report to be published on Thursday finds.

The end-of-year survey on homeless services in Dublin, from the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, notes almost all the additinal emergency beds are full every night.

“Demand for access to emergency accommodation is continuing to grow while capacity is fully occupied,” it states.

The report also outlines how a “dramatic decline in access to private rented accommodation” for the poorest households forced a Government task force to lower its 2014 target for moving people out of homelessness, from 1,100 to 700.

Some 271 additional emergency beds were provided in Dublin before Christmas following the death of Jonathan Corrie (43) in a doorway near Leinster House at the start of December. Not all were for night-to-night allocation, with some intended for longer-term occupation.

However, the extra capacity has resulted in a significant increase in the number of beds allocated each night, from an average of 130 in third quarter of 2014, to an average of 241 a night in the three weeks following December 18th.

In the first week of 2015 an average of 262 beds were allocated each night, while the average number of empty beds has fallen from 31 a night in the week before Christmas to three a night now. On January 7th there was no empty bed in Dublin.

“We have once again reached near full capacity,” notes the report

Rising tide

The number of adults in all types of emergency accommodation (excluding hotels) in Dublin grew steadily through 2014, from 1,394 in the first quarter, to 1,414 in the second and 1,491 in the third. On the last day of the year there were 1,692 adults in emergency accommodation in Dublin. The numbers “stuck” in emergency accommodation for six months or more has also increased steadily, from 763 in the first quarter to 921 at the end of the year.

“The major contributing factor to this pattern was the low level of move to tenancies, particularly to private rented accommodation,” states the report.

In all, 555 homeless households in Dublin accessed social housing last year, compared with 367 in 2013.

So significant has been the impact of rent inflation that the Dublin Joint Homeless Consultative Forum, at the end of 2013, reduced its aim of getting 1,100 homeless households into homes this year to 700.

Separately, the report finds that a new tenancy protection service operated by Threshold, where families at risk of homelessness can apply, via the service, to have their rent supplement increased, has saved the taxpayer more than €3.5 million since it started in June. It has intervened and achieved rent supplement increases for 277 families, with 67 other tenancies protected following advocacy work, at a cost of €201,882. Had these families become homeless and had to be accommodated in hotels the estimated cost would have been €3.7 million.