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Homelessness is worse than ever, says Brother Kevin

The homelessness crisis is being reviewed monthly by the government, but Brother Kevin Crowley (inset) of the Capuchin Day Centre said the problem is getting worse.

"It's action that's needed not talk. They've been talking for years and it's worse it's getting," said Brother Crowley.

"Wednesday was crazy - we handed out 1,700 food parcels, we did 800 breakfasts and 560 dinners.

"That's just in the one day. So how can anyone say the situation is getting better?," he added.

The Department of the Environment, which oversees housing and homelessness, published an implementation plan to tackle the problem last May.

The Housing Minister at the time, Jan O'Sullivan, announced €46m funding for various projects with €29m assigned to the homelessness plan. A spokesman for the Department of the Environment said that the team leading the plan meets monthly to review progress and reports to the Cabinet Sub Committee on Social Policy every three months.

However, Brother Crowley said he is now feeding more homeless people than he was before the recession.

"Before the recession we were giving out between 300 and 400 food parcels a week.

"Homelessness is getting worse and if there is no action it won't end," he stated.

Brother Crowley explained that he spent 45 minutes trying to get through to the homeless free-phone number looking for a bed for a man he knew before giving up.

He moved from being fifth in the phone queue to being 20th.

"Now how you can expect a homeless person on the street to wait that long only to get through and find out there's no bed?" he asked.

One man, who comes to the Capuchin Day Centre daily, sleeps in a cemetery, "because he feels safe there", he added.

The anti-homelessness campaigner said that drugs is his biggest concern right now and that the people importing and selling them need to be penalised.

"My biggest concern is for the people on the streets on drugs," he said.

"Drug use is getting worse and the drug addicts are the ones being criticised for being on the streets, but where can they go?

"The Government needs to take action on this," stated the Franciscan brother.

The centre has approximately 20 volunteers including dentists and optometrists to assist with health needs.