herald

Monday 5 December 2016

168 sleeping rough on streets as charity says crisis action is 'too slow'

Homeless boy on O'Connell Bridge, Dublin. Photo: Douglas O'Connor.
Homeless boy on O'Connell Bridge, Dublin. Photo: Douglas O'Connor.

Measures proposed by the Government to reduce homeless numbers may come too late, a leading homelessness charity has warned.

Dublin Simon Community has called for swifter action to get people off the streets and into homes, as it launched its annual report.

It came as the charity counted 168 rough sleepers in Dublin's inner city this week, as well as an additional 60 people in the Merchant's Quay cafe.

Speaking at the report's launch, Sam McGuinness of the Dublin Simon Community said it supported the Government's action plan for homelessness, Rebuilding Ireland.

The plan intends to build 200 homes by the end of the year, a further 800 next year and another 700 by 2018.

But Mr McGuinness said the progress "may be too late".

"These (rough sleeper) numbers are not going to stop. There's nothing presently that will stop these numbers."

He also called for more support in mental health, addiction and medical services as numbers on the streets increase.

"The problem is this may all take too long. We are having a lot of suicidal ideation, and health problems. We're seeing them a lot more often, and across many services," he said.

The charity's annual report revealed that just 10pc of people in emergency accommodation had moved into a home in 2015.

Meanwhile, 59pc of people in emergency accommodation have been homeless for more than two years.

Mr McGuinness also commented on the charity's most recent rough sleeper count, which revealed a sharp increase in people forced to sleep on the streets.

The figure was the highest seen since December 2014, before the Merchant's Quay night cafe was set up.

"That means there were 228 people without a bed," he said.

He also pointed out that the Dublin Simon Community's count did not include people who may have been sleeping in the city's parks, explaining that the parks were difficult to get into at night.

Proud

Dublin Lord Mayor Brendan Carr was also at the report's launch yesterday.

"In 101 ways, I'm very proud of this city," he said.

"I'm proud of the people, but I'm ashamed at the way the homeless situation has escalated over the past number of years.

"Any Dub would be ashamed of the situation."

But he thanked the Simon Community for their efforts, and stressed that tackling homelessness was the responsibility of everyone living in or visiting the city.

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