Number of homeless on streets near record high
The number of rough sleepers in Dublin is edging back towards record highs because of the lack of emergency accommodation.
The Dublin Simon Community last month reported a record of an average 168 rough sleepers each night on the streets of the capital.
According to the latest figures from the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, the average number of rough sleepers now stands at around 140 a night.
The lack of available emergency accommodation and "increased demand for access to all forms of emergency acc- ommodation" is driving the numbers back up towards last month's all-time record.
As a result, Dublin City Council (DCC) hopes to add 210 bed spaces as soon as possible as part of its winter strategy to prevent rough sleeping, the council said last night.
Anthony Flynn, director of Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH), said he was anxious to see proper beds provided within as short a time frame as possible to cope with increasing demand for services as the colder winter nights close in.
The group said it is handing out more than 4,000 sleeping bags every month.
Homeless campaigners have also raised serious concerns over the increase in homeless women sleeping rough on Dublin's streets, with at least three pregnant women recorded in the past month.
Former Lord Mayor Christy Burke, who works with ICHH, said the number of women sleeping rough has increased significantly over the past month.
"I'm sick of the Government and local authorities saying they'll debate the issue, or put a plan in place. We need action now, because it's desperate," he said.
Meanwhile, the council is providing emergency accommodation at hotels to more than 1,000 families with dependent children.
Nearly 3,000 adults (2,988) and 2,065 children were living in Dublin hotels last month, representing a higher number of homeless than even during the depths of the recession in 2008 or the 5,000 people across Ireland who were without shelter in 2010.
Forty of the homeless adults are old age pensioners.
The city council has freed up 332 social housing units so far this year as part of its Social Housing Strategy to make 3,347 units available by 2017. An additional 565 came on stream last year.