Record numbers of people sleeping rough as homeless crisis reaches 'devastating' levels
Published 20/09/2016 | 10:54
The number of people sleeping rough in Dublin has reached record levels.
A city centre headcount by the Dublin Simon Community on Tuesday morning found 168 people slept outside in doorways, shop fronts, streets and parks.
The figure does not include another 60 people on a floor in the Merchant's Quay Night Cafe or unknown numbers trying to bed down in Phoenix Park.
The charity counted a 32% rise in rough sleepers last year even though 195 new emergency beds have been provided in the capital since Jonathan Corrie was found dead on a doorstep near Leinster House in December 2014.
Dublin Simon said the number of people it sees with no roof over their head has escalated from from 80 in August last year to 106 a year later, and is averaging 150 this month.
The charity's chief executive Sam McGuinness said the visible scale of homelessness is shocking.
"With emergency beds across the city operating at full capacity each night, rapid housing and support for individuals is urgently needed to get people off the streets to safety and to tackle the bottleneck in emergency accommodation," he said.
"People have become trapped in the revolving door of homelessness and the short-term measure of emergency accommodation has become long term."
Mr McGuinness backed Housing, Planning and Local Government Minister Simon Coveney's efforts to ease the crisis but urged him to publish specifics on how more accommodation will be provided.
He said official figures from the Department of Environment in the past year showed a 29% increase in the number of adults and 39% rise in children accessing emergency accommodation.
Mr McGuinness added: "The long-term effects of homelessness are destructive to people's lives and one more night on the streets for any of the 168 people we counted this morning will have a devastating impact on their health."
Dublin Simon also revealed that 70% of people entering its detox programme were homeless for more than six months and half had been homeless for more than two years.
Waiting time for a bed in the detox unit went from 27 days in 2014 to 31 days last year due to limited accommodation.
The charity said only one in every 10 people completing a detox moving to housing.
Dublin Simon revealed the extent of its work with prevention and resettlement services in Dublin helping to reduce the risk of 570 people losing their homes and another 315 people in Kildare, Wicklow and Meath getting advice, settlement, prevention and outreach services to secure a home.
The charity also gave out more than 230,000 meals to homeless people, while it acquired 109 new housing units and plans to add another 450.