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Dublin: 9 °C Friday 20 April, 2018
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Homeless deaths: Dublin's emergency beds were practically at capacity on Monday night

Two men who had been sleeping rough died in recent days.

The area where the man was found unresponsive in Ranelagh.
The area where the man was found unresponsive in Ranelagh.
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

THERE WERE JUST two vacant beds across homeless services in Dublin on Monday night, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) has confirmed.

There have been renewed calls for further efforts to be made to address the homelessness crisis after two men who had been sleeping rough died in recent days.

A man in his 30s, originally from Lithuania, was found unresponsive at the Four Courts on Monday morning and later pronounced dead at the Mater Hospital.

And on Tuesday a man believed to have been in his late 50s was found unresponsive on the grounds of Gonzaga College in Ranelagh, in the south suburbs. Emergency services responded to the scene at around midday, and the man died later at St Vincent’s Hospital.

The deaths bring to seven the number of people sleeping rough who have died in the past 12 weeks.

Cold weather 

Extra beds were added to the system in Dublin between last Thursday and last Sunday night due to cold weather. Again, the bed numbers were increased last night due to weather conditions. It’s planned those extra places will remain available until at least next Monday night.

Responding to a query from TheJournal.ie, the DRHE confirmed that there were only two vacant beds across homeless services on Monday of this week – and that these beds would normally be reserved for women.

Emergency beds in homeless hostels are generally reserved by calling a freephone number for the Central Placement Service. In cases where people reserve beds and don’t present at the accommodation centre, these beds are placed back into the system as vacant – but this may not happen until late at night.

A recent audit of rough sleepers in Dublin, carried out on 7 November, found 184 people bedding down on streets, in doorways and on green areas.

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.

Nationally, there are over 8,000 people staying in State-funded emergency accommodation – including hotels and B&Bs, family hubs and emergency hostels. In total, there were 5,298 adults and 3,194 children staying in emergency accommodation during a single week last month.

4 The Four Courts in Dublin. Source: Laura Hutton

The Dublin Region Homeless Executive, which responds to homelessness across the four local authority areas in the capital, said in a statement:

“The DRHE is fully cognisant of the potential impact of severe weather to people who are rough sleeping and every possible effort is being made to ensure that there is enough emergency accommodation provision for those that need it and to ensure that no person is forced to sleep rough.

“Capacity is currently being expanded by 200+ permanent bed spaces with an additional 50 temporary bed spaces available for the winter period.

Due to this expansion, provision of Emergency Accommodation has been steadily increasing since mid November 2017 and will continue until the end of the year.

The DRHE said the man who died after being found at the Four Courts on Monday had been accessing homeless services since 2013 and that he had been placed in emergency accommodation, including temporary supported accommodation, a number of times.

He had recently been staying in supported accommodation and was engaging with a harm reduction team, which works with people with substance use issues.

The man who was found on Tuesday had been accessing services since 2010 and had also been placed in accommodation a number of times.

According to a statement:

Outreach teams had engaged with him on many occasions to access accommodation and relevant supports.
Unfortunately support services were unable to progress this man to a
more permanent housing solution after he left his last placement.
The last known contact with homeless services seeking emergency accommodation occurred on 21 November when he was provided with emergency accommodation.

The DRHE said it wished to express its condolences to the family and friends of both men, neither of whom has been formally identified as yet.

A spokesperson for the Peter McVerry Trust, which works to house homeless people in the capital, said it had been making efforts to bring in extra beds throughout the year and was working to make a further 85 available as soon as possible.

The charity was constantly assessing what it could do to make extra space available, the spokesperson said, and was also making a massive push for extra apartments for single people.

The Trust is calling on the Government to commit to housing every person currently sleeping rough in Dublin by the end of 2018.

Read: Man who was sleeping rough in Ranelagh dies after being found unresponsive

Read: ‘Our hearts go out to the family and friends’: Two homeless men have died in Dublin this week

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