The complexities of homelessness

 

Sir, – The death of a person labelled “homeless” evokes huge emotion, and rightly so (“Two men found dead in Dublin”, News, November 26th.

Tragedies such as these, happening so close to Christmas, make it difficult to have a balanced discussion. The deaths of two men in our capital city, with one located so close to Dáil Éireann, have added significance. However, we all know from experience that misery can be used opportunistically.

The comments from Dublin Region Homeless Executive are worth noting. “It is important to emphasise the need to maintain confidentiality around these deaths and that these people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect in their passing”.

May I suggest that they are entitled to that as a fundamental right.

It has become far too easy to forget that people have families and loved ones, many of whom have struggled to help them, often in dire circumstances.

The rush to apportion blame can lose sight of how complex a problem homelessness actually is.

Unfortunately, to express this view can leave one open to ridicule, and I know this only too well.

Addiction, mental health problems, low self-esteem resulting from factors such as childhood trauma, and the pain of living, sometimes beyond description, can all lead to homelessness.

Labels stick, and even when one is happily living in good supported housing, a place they call home, they can find themselves labelled homeless – even in death.

The time to have a well-informed, open and honest discussion around the complexities of homelessness, while of course acknowledging the need for more housing, is long overdue. – Yours, etc,

ALICE LEAHY,

Director of Services,

Alice Leahy Trust,

Dublin 8.