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Thursday 2 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
Cormac Fitzgerald/ (From L to R) Paul and Roy in their transitional accommodation.
# Homelessness
"You get up in the morning and the first thing you say to yourself is 'where am I going to sleep tonight'?"
Paul and Roy Kelly spent three months homeless living in a tent before being helped by the Peter McVerry Trust.

HOMELESSNESS CHARITY PETER McVerry Trust supported close to 4,600 people across its services last year.

Two of those were brothers Paul and Roy Kelly. Originally from Blanchardstown, the pair became homeless last year when their landlord sold the place where they were living.

Paul and Roy had been living in the flat in Phibsboro for 10 years before this. They had never experienced homelessness before but soon they found themselves sleeping in a tent along the Royal Canal.

Once they were evicted, the pair tried to find places suitable for them to live.

They were able to avail of the Housing Assistance Payment (Hap) rent subsidy, but were unable to find anywhere to live within the acceptable limits.

They had some money saved up and stayed for a number of nights in different Bed and Breakfasts.

Before long, however, their money had run out, and the two found themselves homeless. Without anywhere else where they could go, they bought a tent and set it up among bushes on the canal.

“It was horrible, horrible,” Roy told yesterday.

“It was very uncomfortable staying there for the night,” said Paul.

You’d get half an hour here or there trying to sleep… Then waking up with the first train going by a four o’clock in the morning.

After three weeks living in the tent the brothers presented as homeless to the Central Placement Service on Parkgate Street.

Paul was suffering from severe dermatitis at the time – his legs had swollen up and he was having difficulty walking. Both brothers have battled with drug addiction and Paul has had a series of health issues.

The brothers were given a place in the Peter McVerry-run emergency hostel on Ellis Quay, which opened last year just before Christmas.

They stayed there for six months and moved onto transitional housing where they are living now.

The brothers share a flat but are still listed as homeless. The transitional housing is a step between living in a homeless hostel and getting a proper, permanent home to live in.


PMV Trust launched its annual report for 2016 yesterday. The charity pointed to increased need for its services as the number of homeless people has shot up in recent years.

Latest figures for September show that there were 8,374 people homeless and living in state-funded emergency accommodation in Ireland in September. Of these, 5,250 were adults and 3,124 were children.

Child homelessness has quadrupled in three years and adult homelessness has more than doubled.

Addressing this, PMVT increased the number of placements in its emergency accommodation by 49% from 2015 to 2016 to meet the increasing demand.

Emergency accommodation beds in Dublin are regularly full every night. People who are registered as homeless have to dial a freephone number every day and hope to secure a place

For Paul and Roy, this was one of the hardest aspects of being homeless.

“The three months that we were going here and going there it was head wrecking,” Roy said.

“You were ringing the free phone and you’d be given a bed and that would be grand, a bit of weight off your shoulders.

“Then you say to yourself, ‘lovely, have a kip’, then you’re getting up in the morning and first things you’re saying to yourself – ‘Where am I going to sleep tonight?’

I’m going to have the ring the free phone and then they say ring back at 10 o’clock we’ll give you a sleeping bag and a mat… and that’s it.


At the launch of the annual report, PMVT CEO Pat Doyle and founder Fr Peter McVerry both stressed the need for the government to focus its efforts on supplying actual homes for people in need – rather than shelters.

To this end, they asked government to divert more funds towards the housing first programme of tackling homelessness.

“The solution to homelessness is obviously to supply people with a home,” said founder Peter McVerry.

Housing first is the programme through which homeless people are given a home of their own with round the clock services then provided to them.

In Ireland the programme has resulted in 167 people being housed. PMVT has also been pursuing its own solo programme which has resulted in 25 tenancies so far and which it is expanding.

Doyle said this approach needed to be supported more by government funding.

“This is very frustrating because we know that emergency accommodation is more expensive and less effective than other models such as housing first.

“Yet housing first receives less than 1% of the national homeless budget each year in Ireland.

In other countries up to 50% of the homeless services budget must be invested in the housing first model. Housing first has significantly higher success rates for housing people, and can be delivered at almost half the cost of traditional emergency accommodation.

Paul and Roy are currently living in transitional housing but hope to have a permanent place to live in the future. They are extremely grateful for the opportunities given to them.

“We feel blessed to have been given this chance,” said Roy.

We’re very, very grateful.

Read: ‘Like you’re running up an escalator that is going in the wrong direction’: Peter McVerry says homelessness keeps getting worse

Read: The man who pioneered a solution to homelessness: Give people homes

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