Government aims to end homelessness by 2016
Enda Kenny says a budget of €45m has been allocated to deal with the problem this year
A homeless man sleeping on Kildare Street. Mary Lou McDonald said the Dublin regional homeless executive had reported that rough sleeping in the city increased by 200 per cent in the past 12 months. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times
The Government’s aim was to end homelessness by 2016, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil.
He said its homeless policy statement, published this year, emphasised a housing-led policy that was about accessing permanent housing as a response to all forms of homelessness.
Mr Kenny said that in the Dublin region last year, 879 people had moved from homelessness to independent living. Recently, in Merchant’s Quay, he had spoken to some of those who had made the move, and they were happy despite all their personal difficulties.
The Taoiseach was responding to Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, who said the homeless crisis in Dublin city was getting worse.
“Walk the streets around here and one will see countless people, many of them very young, sleeping rough. Imagine what it must be like to be forced to sleep on the streets night after freezing night.’’
Ms McDonald said this week the Dublin regional homeless executive confirmed that rough sleeping in the city had increased by “a shocking 200 per cent in the past 12 months’’. Focus Ireland had reported an 18 per cent increase in demand for its services this year.
“Many other homeless agencies are experiencing similar demands. They have also highlighted the fact that the number of families presenting as homeless in Dublin has doubled from eight to 16 every month.’’
Mr Kenny said he agreed that economic circumstances placed huge pressure on so many individuals and families, adding that the Government had allocated a budget of about €45 million this year to deal with the problem.
“I asked a homeless person the other evening about what he does with all the gear he was carrying. He told me he leaves it in a particular spot during the course of the day and goes around to his usual haunts to see if he can make ends meet.’’
He said that was not a satisfactory situation. “Some people with whom I speak have a range of problems.’’
When Ms McDonald accused Mr Kenny of speaking out of both sides of his mouth on the issue, he challenged her to name a predecessor who took time to go down the streets and talk to the homeless.