Tuesday 20 March 2018

Children found sleeping rough in homeless crisis

Anthony Flynn, director of the Inner City Helping the Homeless group
Anthony Flynn, director of the Inner City Helping the Homeless group

Jane O'Faherty

A homeless family with three young children has been found sleeping rough as campaigners warned that the accommodation crisis is now at its worst point in living memory.

The family, originally from Romania, included children aged five, four and just two years.

They were evicted from their private rented accommodation in Dublin's Rialto area after the property had been repossessed.

They then sought help from Dublin City Council's Central Placement Unit but left without a referral for emergency accommodation.

The family were found sleeping rough in Mountjoy Square on Monday night by Focus Ireland's intake team and ended up sleeping in the offices of the Inner City Helping the Homeless (ICHH) group.

Anthony Flynn, director of ICHH, said the family had since found accommodation but he warned that urgent action is needed to address the "black hole" of homelessness in Dublin.

"We consistently throw money at it. We don't need more money, we need somebody with a brain to sit down and find out where this money is going," he said.

Meanwhile, Focus Ireland's director of advocacy, Mike Allen, said the current crisis was more acute than any other in his experience or "in the experience of people who have been here a lot longer than me".

In the past few weeks, five families have been found on Dublin's streets after being told by homeless services that there was no accommodation for them.

"Let us be crystal-clear here. We are talking about fathers and mothers being left sleeping in cars with their children or even on a bench on the street," said Mr Allen.

"We do all we can to prevent this but I am sure anyone would agree this situation is not only untenable, it is also totally unacceptable."

Focus Ireland warned that the problems being experienced in the capital are now spreading across the country, with families becoming homeless more regularly in Galway, Cork and Kildare.

Department of the Environment figures have revealed a 55pc rise in the number of homeless families in Dublin since the beginning of the year. Last month, there were 1,318 children from 620 families reported as being homeless.

Focus Ireland also said the situation could be brought under control if the Government agreed to raise rent supplement and introduce 'rent certainty', which would bring in rules against unfair rent increases.

Meanwhile, Lorraine Wolfe from Dublin spoke to RTÉ's 'Liveline' yesterday about her experience of homelessness with her teenage son.

Since being turned away from a hotel offering emergency accommodation, Lorraine and her son Carlos (15) have spent nights in the Phoenix Park and the A&E of the Mater Hospital.

"All I want is somewhere for me and my son to lie down at night, to go asleep and be safe," she said, adding that she was put on a "homeless waiting list" as all emergency accommodation options were full.

The Department of the Environment has said there is no shortfall in funding for homeless services in the Dublin region. However, it is discussing the possibility of further expenditure with Dublin housing authorities.

Irish Independent

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