Sunday 21 January 2018

Government action to tackle homeless crisis 'too late', warns charity

Homeless crisis is out of control, says Dublin Simon Community
Homeless crisis is out of control, says Dublin Simon Community

Jane O'Faherty

Actions proposed by Government to reduce homeless numbers may come too late, a leading homelessness charity has warned.

Dublin Simon Community has called for swifter action to get people off the streets and into homes, as it launched its annual report.

It came as the charity counted 168 rough sleepers in Dublin’s inner city this week, as well as an additional 60 people in the Merchant’s Quay café.

Speaking at the report’s launch, Sam McGuinness of the Dublin Simon Community said it supported the Government’s action plan for homelessness, Rebuilding Ireland.

Read More: Record numbers of people sleeping rough as homeless crisis reaches 'devastating' levels

The plan intends to build 200 homes by the end of the year, a further 800 next year and another 700 by 2018.

But Mr McGuinness said the progress “may be too late”.

“These (rough sleeper) numbers are not going to stop. There’s nothing presently that will stop these numbers,” he said.

He also called for more support in mental health, addiction and medical services as numbers on the streets increase.

“The problem is this may all take too long. We are having a lot suicidal ideation, and health problems,” he said. “We’re seeing them a lot more often, and across many services.”

The charity’s annual report revealed that just 10pc of people in emergency accommodation had moved into a home in 2015.

Meanwhile, 59pc of people in emergency accommodation had been homeless for more than two years.

Mr McGuinness also commented on the charity’s most recent rough sleeper count, which revealed a sharp increase in people forced to sleep on the streets.

The figure was the highest seen since December 2014, before the Merchant’s Quay night café was set up.

“That means there were 228 people without a bed,” he said.

“That’s an extraordinary number, and it’s extraordinary that there isn’t a plan before it happens to do something about it if it happens.”

He also pointed out that the Dublin Simon Community’s count did not include numbers who may have been sleeping in the city’s parks, explaining that the parks are difficult to access at night.

Housing Minister Simon Coveney is set to announce Pillar One of the Government Action plan on Thursday.

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