Rise of 30% in numbers sleeping rough in capital

Charities say figures reflect wider trend of growing demand for homeless services

Latest official figures nationally indicate there are about 5,000 people homeless nationally. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Latest official figures nationally indicate there are about 5,000 people homeless nationally. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 


Charities have warned of a growing crisis in homelessness following new figures which show the numbers sleeping rough in Dublin have increased by almost 30 per cent over the past year.

A report issued by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive shows at least 94 people were found sleeping rough on the streets of the capital last month, compared to 73 people during the same period last year. The numbers are now at a four-year high.

The sharp increase in rough sleeping comes despite moves by authorities to provide extra emergency beds as part of its annual cold weather strategy.

The Dublin Region Homeless Executive has decided to keep the extra emergency beds available in the city centre over the coming months due to the consistently high demand.

Charities yesterday said the figures reflected a wider trend of growing demand for homeless services at a time when services are struggling to cope with less resources.


‘Frantic’ demand
Latest official figures nationally indicate there are about 5,000 people homeless nationally. Most reside in emergency accommodation such as hostels, shelters or bed and breakfasts.

Sam McGuinness of the Dublin Simon Community said demand for services in the capital was “frantic” and warned that homelessness was just “one pay cheque away” for many people.

“In present uncertain times – with limited emergency accommodation, a shortage of move-on options, rent increases and rent allowance restrictions – the pressure for beds in emergency accommodation is frantic,” he said.

“The confusion of the opening and closing of a number of hostels recently was leaving people with nowhere to go and spending longer periods of time on the street, sinking further into helplessness and despair. It’s not good enough.”

The charity conducts its own regular weekly street counts of rough sleepers and has recorded a 68 per cent increase in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2012.

Focus Ireland said the figures showed the continued lack of access to housing to help support people to move on from being homeless. meant rough sleeping was a growing problem.


Unacceptable
The group’s director of advocacy Mike Allen said it was unacceptable that anyone had to sleep rough or to be stuck living in emergency accommodation for long periods of time.

“We are seeing more people coming to us seeking support,” he said.

“While it’s important to highlight that there is a lot of good work being done helping people to move on from being homeless, the reality is much of the emergency accommodation provided does not have suitable supports in place to cope with rising demand and the range of needs people have,” he said.

Mr McGuinness added that Dublin Simon was doing everything possible to implement a housing-led solution by securing and developing housing options for people distressed and isolated by homelessness.

Last November, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive found at least 87 people sleeping rough on the streets of the capital on one night .

However, the overall total could have been significantly higher - possibly more than 100 - as a Merchants Quay service which allows people to report themselves as sleeping rough was closed on that night.