Rough sleeping trebles in Dublin in one year

Draft action plan on homelessness points to severe challenges delivering national policy

 Homeless people sleeping rough off Grafton Street in Dublin city centre. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Homeless people sleeping rough off Grafton Street in Dublin city centre. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien


The draft Homeless Action Plan for Dublin 2014 to 2016, indicates that a total of 305 individual people were “bedded down” in the city in the first half of this year, as compared with 97 in the first six months of 2012 – an increase of 208 per cent.

The latest “rough-sleeper count”, conducted by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive two weeks ago, is expected to show another steep increase in the number of people sleeping rough.

Action plan
A homeless action plan, Sustaining the Pathway to Home, will be finalised by Dublin’s four local authorities this month, for adoption early next year. A draft of the plan, seen by The Irish Times, shows that one third of the 2,886 individuals using emergency homelessness services in the first six months of this year were accessing services for the first time.

“The demand for access to emergency accommodation and related homeless services in Dublin is broadening, strengthening and deepening while the challenges of procuring and delivery access to affordable and adequate housing continue unfettered,” says the plan. In 2012, 4,837 individuals used emergency services, of who 2,486 were “new to our services”. Of these, just 879 “successfully moved away from homelessness into independent living”.

‘Housing first approach’
Dublin’s local authorities earlier this year adopted a “housing first” approach to addressing homelessness, meaning people in homelessness should be offered long-term housing, supported if necessary, rather than hostel or emergency accommodation in the first place. Emergency accommodation is regarded as both expensive and ineffective in the long-term.

Also driving this move from emergency accommodation is the “stark reality” that an increasing number of private accommodation providers, contracted to provide B&B-type emergency accommodation, are going into receivership, resulting in a “rapid withdrawal of the use of these premises in the near future”.

Capital expenditure on social housing has been reduced from €1.3 billion in 2008 to €275 million last year, with social housing output falling from 8,000 units to fewer than 1,500. “It remains the case that the supply of social housing is not keeping pace with the growth of local authority housing waiting lists.”