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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 19 November, 2019
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Homeless charity warns of 'tsunami' of demand

Launching its 2010 annual report today, the Dublin Simon Community says it is experiencing a surge in requests for emergency accommodation and sleeping bags.

Image: Franco Folini via Creative Commons

THE DUBLIN SIMON Community says that the number of people sleeping rough in Dublin city increased by 26 per cent in the second quarter of 2011 compared with the same period last year.

Dublin Simon says it has increased the number of temporary emergency beds, including ‘crash’ mattresses, by almost 100 per cent between January 2010 and June 2011.

Launching is annual report for 2010 today, the organisation says that it is experiencing a surge in requests for sleeping bags from homeless people who are unable to access emergency accommodation.

Dublin Simon CEO Sam McGuinness said that of the 1,200 housing units promised to long-term homeless people last year, just 24 per cent were delivered.

“We accept that in the present economic uncertainty cuts are a fact of Irish life,” Mc Guinness said. “It is not wise or prudent to inflict further financial austerity in funding for homeless services and supports across the Dublin Region with an emerging demand tsunami in sight, causing more suffering to the very vulnerable.”

He said the charity is particularly reliant on its donors, who contributed over €860,000 last year. Its statutory funding fell €600,000 to €5.1 million in 2010.

McGuinness criticised the number of vacant premises in Dublin through 2010 amid the ongoing shortage of accommodation available for homeless people “despite [their] efforts to secure properties such as social letting, private accommodation, acquisitions and properties provided by approved housing bodies”.

Last year, a total of 2,532 homeless people accessed services through Dublin Simon, of which 80 per cent were male. The majority of people seeking assistance were aged between 31 and 49 (59 per cent), while 24 per cent were aged between 18 and 30.

McGuinness told TheJournal.ie that around 75 per cent of people in emergency accommodation have been homeless for at least a year, while 39 per cent have been homeless for five years.

“Normally in the summer time you wouldn’t expect to get demand like we’ve seen it [in 2011],” he said. “As the extra capacity has been put in place, it’s been consumed by more people coming off the streets.”

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