Playwright outlines homeless dangers
"THE place you choose to sleep could be the last place you ever sleep, so you choose very carefully".
With these words, ex- street dweller Glenn Gannon outlined the dangers facing the homeless, as new figures showed a surge of 20pc in people sleeping rough and requiring emergency help in the past 18 months.
Yesterday, a decade after turning his life around, Mr Gannon, now a playwright and actor, said the years he spent on the streets were "the most horrendous experience of my life".
And he warned even those who believe they are immune "you are only two pay cheques away from the street".
Dublin Simon Community reported an increase in people it is helping, up from 812 a month in 2009, to 908 a month during the second quarter of 2010. Releasing the group's annual report, chief executive Sam McGuinness said "it is very clear to us, there is a change ... the downturn in the economy is now having an impact".
Last year, 2,450 people accessed Simon services. Over 1,800 had already done so in the first six months of this year. "If that's a trend, that's 3,600 for the year," he said.
Mr McGuinness called on the Minister for Housing Michael Finneran to honour a commitment to deliver 1,200 accommodation units this year, as part of its promise to end homelessness. Less than 300 have been provided to date.
Despite all the empty homes around the country, Mr McGuiness said a "housing famine" faced those organisations working with the homeless and while the minister had taken steps to address the issue, "it is not working. We are in a logjam".
Mr McGuinness acknowledged that many of the empty units were "stuck in NAMA or stuck in the banks" but he said the Government needed to introduce some kind of initiative to free them up.