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Thousands of single men stuck in perpetual homelessness with 'nowhere to go'

Depaul has pointed out that single people remain the biggest cohort and are likely to remain homeless for longer periods.

Image: Leah Farrell/

THE SHORTAGE OF housing in Dublin city is leaving people “stuck in homelessness” as one charity reports an 18% drop in move-ons from its services. 

In its annual report, published today, Depaul said 636 people moved on from services in 2018, compared to 774 the previous year. 

Depaul CEO David Carroll said it is “incredibly frustrating” when the charity has helped people to a point where they are ready to live independently “only to find they have nowhere to go”.

“The lack of housing supply is stymieing people’s ability to move on from homelessness. It is disheartening for everybody involved, particularly when our aim is to end homelessness and see people living back in their communities,” he said.

Single people still remain the biggest cohort within the homeless population and the ones likely to remain homeless for longer periods. We must begin to put a greater emphasis on single homeless people, particularly those with complex needs. 

“We know from working with these people that they are more than capable of living independently. Unfortunately, options for single homeless people remain incredibly limited so we must look at new ways of helping those stuck in homelessness for greater periods,” Carroll said. 

The charity’s Back Lane hostel provides both long-term and short-term accommodation to homeless men as well as on-site nursing and mental health interventions and daily meals.

The report tells the story of a man called Mike who has been living in the Back Lane hostel for over a year, having spent his younger years in care. 

In many ways, Mike’s story is one that is all too familiar. A teenager from a broken home, lost in the system, cast out into adulthood without the necessary tools to survive. Mike has spent years bouncing from service to service with little or no stability in his life. He is like the thousands of single men stuck in perpetual homelessness, bottom of the list, with little or no prospect of moving on. 

Mike’s key-worker Brenda said he is ready to move out of homelessness, but has nowhere to go. 

“Mike is well able to live independently. We see that here with how well he looks after his room and how well he manages his money. He is a lovely soft guy with a big heart,” she said.

The number of single people in homelessness currently is 3,945. In December 2014 the number of single homeless people stood at 2,310. This represents a 70% increase in single homeless people in that period.

A recent study into why people are becoming homeless and accessing emergency accommodation carried out by Depaul revealed that 86% of those surveyed were first time homeless.

Of those surveyed:

  • 60% were male;
  • 81% of those males were single (not in a relationship);
  • 77% cited a one-bed property as their ideal accommodation.

The average rent for a one bed apartment in Dublin is around €1,500, according to the latest report but those looking to access housing assistance payment (HAP) are entitled to just €990 per month.

Depaul said this means the main mechanism currently being used to house single homeless people is not working.

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The organisation helped a total of 4,333 men, women and children during 2018, an increase of 9% over 2017, providing a total of 604 beds each night.

Depaul saw 15 babies born in to its services in 2018 and helped a total of 881 children, an increase of 13% on the previous year.

The charity also said it saved 60 lives through the administration of Naloxone, an antidote that reverses the effects of drug overdoses. 

Depaul’s director of services for the Republic of Ireland Dermot Murphy said it is clear from the number of lives saved and suspected overdoses within its services that there is  “growing drug problem”. 

“We have witnessed a huge rise in poly-substance addictions where the people we work with are addicted to two or more types of drug. This is an alarming trend as it can be extremely difficult to treat a person who presents with multiple addictions,” he said.

Other trends we have experienced within our services include a marked rise in the use of crack cocaine. The use of prescription drugs such as Pregablin (Lyrica) and benzodiazepines are also quite noticeable with people presenting with drug addictions to our services.

“The reality is we need to be providing more health interventions and giving people the platform to change their drug consumption. This means providing more recovery orientated services and safe injection facilities, which we believe will ultimately encourage people to engage with services get the support they require.”

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