'Beast' helped to get 60 rough sleepers shelter
The "Beast from the East" can be credited with getting 60 long-term rough sleepers off Dublin streets and into stable accommodation, according to the Peter McVerry Trust.
The effort made by the Dublin Regional Housing Executive (DRHE) in conjunction with the trust during Storm Emma in late February and early March was partly responsible for the 40pc decline in the number of rough sleepers in the capital, said charity chief executive Pat Doyle.
The number of rough sleepers in Dublin dropped from a record of 184 last winter to 110 this spring.
It was the largest decrease on record, according to new figures from the Department of Housing, released yesterday.
"The reduction is a clear result of a high intensity and assertive programme of engagement with people sleeping rough to encourage them into housing," Mr Doyle said.
"The extreme weather events at the time of Storm Emma saw a major mobilisation of resources involving the DRHE and Peter McVerry Trust to get people off the street.
"That response meant that we brought people who wouldn't normally access shelter into a professional environment where we could assess and engage with them over a period of days," he said.
"It was a great privilege for us because we were able to make sure that for those who came into St Catherine's homeless shelter during the snow, we were able to prioritise the most vulnerable, those who needed care the most, to make sure they didn't have to go back out.
"Ultimately, it allowed us to secure new accommodation for an additional 60 people who would normally have slept rough in Dublin," he added.
There were about 30 rough sleepers in Dublin - including 16 in the inner city - who refused to take shelter during the storm for a variety of reasons, including fear of thefts, drug taking and violence at homeless shelters.
But outreach teams working with Focus Ireland and the Peter McVerry Trust worked round the clock to ensure that those rough sleepers who needed a bed during the storm got one.
A spokeswoman for the DRHE said there was "a concerted effort by DRHE and other service providers to be more assertive and stress 'you really need to get in' to rough sleepers", she said.
Many of those rough sleepers are now living in secure, stable accommodation at the charity's three new hostels.
They include one in Inichore and two on the North Circular Road known as supported temporary accommodation, in which social workers and others provide ongoing assessment and referral for medical, addiction and mental health issues.
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, who released the new rough sleeper figures during a tour of the trust's new hostel on North Circular Road, said the drop in numbers was encouraging.
"Still, there's more to do because we still have many people sleeping rough," he said.