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'Extremely worrying': A record high of 184 people are now sleeping rough in Dublin

New figures for October also show an increase in homeless families and single people.

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

AN AUDIT OF homelessness in Dublin on the night of 7 November found 184 people sleeping rough.

That figure represents the highest on record since the official count began in 2007. It is also double the figure seen during the winter of 2015.

The Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) reported the figure today at the launch of its Cold Weather Strategy.

It said it is now in the process of providing an extra 200 permanent emergency beds in the capital.

“All of these beds will be brought into use over the coming weeks and all will be in place by 18 December,” it said in a statement.

The Peter McVerry Trust, responding to the record number, called for a greater response to the needs of single people.

“The figure of 184 is very disappointing and it’s clearly not acceptable,” chief executive Pat Doyle said.

INFO The latest rough sleeper figures. Source: DRHE

The figure show a rise of 42 on last year’s winter rough sleeper count. The count is carried out twice yearly across the four Dublin local authorities – in November and spring.

The infographic on the DRHE website for the latest spring count found 161 people sleeping rough in Dublin. However, this number differs from a figure of 138 that was given and reported on – including in TheJournal.ie - at the time.

A spokesperson confirmed to TheJournal.ie that the infographic was in error and that  the number of recorded rough sleepers being used is 138.

The additional number came from a “unique group” of 23 non-nationals who were found sleeping rough and were being repatriated at the time.

The infographic has since been amended to reflect this:

info2 The (updated) rough sleeper figures for Dublin in spring. Source: DRHE

October figures

Figures have also been released today on the number of homeless people and families staying in state-funded emergency accommodation in October.

In total, there were 5,298 adults and 3,194 children staying in emergency accommodation during a single week in the month.

This marks a rise of 48 adults and 70 children on September.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said that the number of families in commercial hotels and B&Bs in Dublin was now at 676 (down from 690 in September).

Commenting on the figures, Murphy said that Ireland “continued to face a crisis in homelessness” but that “the situation is beginning to look like it’s stabilising in Ireland”.

“We continue to face a crisis in homelessness,” he said.

“However the situation is beginning to look like it is stabilising in Dublin, which is where our homeless problem has been most severe.

The numbers continue to increase outside of Dublin however and so we must take the actions that have arrested the increase in Dublin and apply them elsewhere.
Also commenting on the figures, homelessness charity Focus Ireland said that they must act as reality check for government.

Director of advocacy Mike Allen said that the charity welcomes the additional new beds that are being opened, but said that they showed that government was “constantly reacting to the problem rather than taking more immediate action to solve it”.

“It is really disappointing that despite the fact that the Government is talking about Housing First is the solution to rough sleeping while all the time opening more and more emergency beds,” he said.

CEO of the Dublin Simon Community Sam McGuinness said that the figures were “concerning and disappointing”.

“However we welcome the Ministers’ announcement of an extra 200 permanent emergency beds in the capital to address the demand,” he said.

Depaul CEO Kerry Anthony said that the figures were “extremely worrying”.

“Homelessness is a complex issue and needs a consistent, holistic approach,” she said.

While these Rough Sleeper figures are cause for concern, it is essential that we remain committed to Rebuilding Ireland and that policy makers take heed of the recommendations of voluntary organisations like Depaul in order to make progress.

Cold Weather Strategy

The DRHE also launched its Cold Weather Strategy today for increasing supports for homeless people during the winter period.

As well as the announcement of 200 additional beds, it said there would be enhanced service operations throughout the cold weather period.

These include additional emergency responses for any families that find themselves homeless; increased staffing for housing intakes and outreach teams; and agreements with service providers that additional temporary shelter can be brought into use across a range of existing services and facilities.

With reporting from Cormac Fitzgerald

Read: ‘Perhaps that wasn’t the question’: Taoiseach may have misunderstood homelessness question

Read: Young mothers queuing for handouts of nappies is the new normal for a Dublin charity

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