herald

Sunday 20 May 2018

Highest number of rough sleepers on city streets ever recorded

A rough sleeper in Dublin
A rough sleeper in Dublin

More rough sleepers have been recorded on Dublin's streets than ever before.

A survey by Dublin City Council found there were 184 on the streets on November 7. The previous highest figure was 168 in the winter of 2014.

Of those who contacted the DRHE freephone for accommodation, 40 could not be provided with a bed.

The latest rough sleeper count showed an increase despite the number of emergency beds also rising. There were 241 extra beds provided last year.

Non-EU nationals are not entitled to emergency accommodation.

There were 53 rough sleepers recorded who were non-Irish. However, it is unclear how many of these are from outside the EU.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said: "We don't have an obligation to provide them (non-EU) with housing. But it's very important as far as I'm concerned that whomever we encounter on our streets, sleeping rough, that we put in place every piece of support that we can and we get them into emergency accommodation."

Mr Murphy was speaking at the launch of the Winter Initiative for rough sleepers in Dublin yesterday.

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"In terms of our cold weather initiative to make sure that we are getting to rough sleepers to get them into supported accommodation, it's very important we have initiated that because we are aware there's a cold snap," he said.

"The local authorities learnt a great deal from the winter of 2010 and 2011 in terms of making sure they had enough resources in place if we encounter another cold snap as we did then. So I assume the local authorities have the resources in place to handle anything that might come in the coming days in terms of maintaining our roads and maintaining them free from ice."

Depaul Ireland CEO Kerry Anthony described the latest rough sleeper figures as "very worrying" but said that there must be continued commitment to the Rebuilding Ireland scheme.

Some 8,500 people are also now in emergency accommodation, a "deeply worrying" statistic with the Simon Community saying that we need to ensure that we don't become immune to the issue.

Spokeswoman Niamh Randall said a failure in the private sector to provide an adequate number of homes has caused the crisis to deepen.

"As people move out of emergency accommodation, more people come in to take their place. This has to be traced back to the failure of the private sector to provide for housing needs, in the absence of sufficient social and affordable housing," she said.

"Many people in emergency accommodation are coming from the private rental sector where they have lost their home because they cannot afford to pay rent. Responses to the crisis have centred on an emergency led response with limited focus on people's wider and ongoing support needs."

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