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Sister Stanislaus Kennedy: 'In 30 years, I've never seen homeless crisis this bad'

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A syringe lies besides the remnants of the man's belongings.

A syringe lies besides the remnants of the man's belongings.

A syringe lies besides the remnants of the man's belongings.

It is with great sadness that I write this, after hearing of the awful tragedy of the death of a man sleeping rough right in front of Dail Eireann.

It is terrible that someone was found dead in dreadful circumstances on Molesworth Street.

Both my own and Focus Ireland's deepest condolences go out to this man's family and friends.

We do not comment specifically on such tragedies as there must be time to grieve. There must be privacy and respect. Rough-sleeping in Dublin is getting worse. The latest figures show a 20pc rise in the numbers sleeping rough in the city since last year.

Focus Ireland's street outreach team, in partnership with the Peter McVerry Trust, are on the streets seven nights a week. They help get people off the streets into emergency accommodation.

This is difficult as the emergency system is struggling to cope.

There are not enough beds and not enough suitable supports in place for people. Some people sleeping rough do not want to go into hostels as they may not feel safe there. Or it may be they have needs that are not being met.

Many people sleeping rough need very specific supports. Some get this but not enough is being done. The long-term answer is not just more emergency beds but it is in providing more homes.

Despite all the work done, the situation is continuing to deteriorate as there is a critical shortage of affordable accommodation. We supported over 10,000 people last year who were either homeless or at risk of losing their home.

shocking

I have never seen anything like it in my 30 years of working with homeless people. A shocking total of 800 children and their families became homeless so far this year.

Many families and people who become homeless lost their home in the private rented sector due to rising rents. The government has the power to prevent more people becoming homeless. The State has taken some action to help some families, which is welcome, but it's clearly not enough.

More needs to be done.

Many people who are homeless - especially those sleeping rough - have complex problems. They are broken, often struggling personally and suffering.

They need our support. The first part of this must be taking the immediate actions required to prevent more people from becoming homeless tomorrow.

Sr Stanislaus Kennedy is the founder of homeless charity Focus Ireland


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