50% increase in numbers sleeping rough in Dublin

Tuesday 03 December 2013 19.26
Figures show six additional people access homeless services every day
Figures show six additional people access homeless services every day

Official figures show that the number of people sleeping rough in Dublin has increased by almost 50% since April.

A total of 139 people were found without accommodation, the highest number recorded since the rough sleeper count began in 2007.

The Dublin Region Homeless Executive, which carried out the count, recently said it will provide extra emergency accommodation to cope with the upsurge

80 extra beds have already provided as part of the Cold Weather Initiative.

However, the executive said more housing is needed.

Six additional people access homeless services every day, with only two people being moved out of homelessness and into housing.

The executive said there is a particular risk for families in rent arrears and has urged tenants to get help from housing services.

The count found there were 139 people sleeping rough, compared to 94 in April.

80% were male and nearly 30% were from outside Ireland, with the origin of nearly 20% unknown.

Dublin Region Homeless Executive director Cathal Morgan said there is a growing trend of families being forced to leave private rented accommodation and moving into homeless accommodation.

Mr Morgan said aside from traditional factors contributing to homelessness, such as mental health and addiction, there is growing evidence that a number of homeless people are struggling to keep up with the demands of day-to-day living.

Mr Morgan appealed to families to make contact with homeless services before things get too bad.

He said: "There are two key messages coming loud and clear through what we're trying to do here as a partnership between the voluntary and statutory sector.

"One is we need to try and make sure we prevent people coming into homelessness by resolving issues at the earliest possible opportunity.

"And secondly without housing, and that's the key issue for us... we won't be able to resolve the experience of homelessness."

He also said there was an urgent need for more emergency accommodation.

"The challenge for us is the scale of what's coming at us. For every six individuals who come to homelessness services on a day-to-day basis or are new to homelessness, only two are moving on to housing support.

"Our first reaction really is that we have to have emergency accommodation in place. We put in 80 additional beds and we'll be putting in more beds."

Figures a 'stark reminder' - McVerry Trust

The Peter McVerry Trust said the figures were a stark reminder of the challenges facing people.

In a statement, Trust CEO Pat Doyle said: "In anticipation of what we believed to be rising rough sleeper figures we have in recent weeks increased capacity in our homeless accommodation services."

He said the Trust has added ten new beds for homeless couples and also added a further 12 beds for young homeless people aged 18-26.

The Trust is providing accommodation and housing to 265 individuals every night in the Dublin region.

Mr Doyle said: "We are now working to increase the number of emergency bed placements we provide as part of the Cold Weather Initiative which assists those sleeping rough.

"At present we provide four beds on a nightly basis entirely from our own resources, but we hope to increase this significantly in the comings weeks bringing the overall capacity within our services to almost 300 people per night."