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Dublin: 8 °C Monday 18 November, 2019
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Record decrease in number of rough sleepers in Dublin in past six months

The numbers of people sleeping rough on the city’s streets dropped by just over 40% in the past six months.

FILE Figures released by the Department of Housing show that 8,587 adults and children woke up on Christmas Day in emergency accommodation END File photo Source: Rollingnews.ie

Updated 1pm

HOUSING MINISTER EOGHAN Murphy has welcomed latest figures that show a reduction in the number of rough sleepers, but has said more still needs to be done to tackle homelessness.

“It is the biggest reduction we’ve seen since 2007 when we started counting these numbers. And it’s not too far off that 2007 figure,” Murphy said today.

But while that progress is very welcome of course there is a huge amount more work that we need to do. So we’ll continue to do that work.

He was speaking after figures published by the Department of Housing showed that the number of people sleeping rough dropped from 184 during the winter of 2017 to 110 for spring 2018.

That represents a 40% decrease, and the largest such decrease ever recorded.

“The reduction is a clear result of a high intensity and assertive programme of engagement with people sleeping rough to encourage them into shelter and housing,” said Pat Doyle, CEO with the Peter McVerry Trust.

That response meant that we brought people who wouldn’t normally access shelter into a professional environment where we could assess and engage them over a period of days.

“Ultimately, it allowed us to secure new accommodation for an additional 60 people who would normally have slept rough in Dublin,” he said.

eough Source: DRHE

Storm Emma

With weather events such as the week of snow seen through Storm Emma, the drop in numbers represents something of a coup for homeless services in the capital, who have been engaged in a concerted effort to get people who would not generally elect to seek homeless accommodation to access shelter.

The concentration on attempts to bring rough sleepers into shelter during the storm saw the number of sleepers reduce from 30 on the night of 28 February (the Tuesday on which the storm began to intensify) to 14 on the following night, as the snow hit.

Initiatives such as Dublin City Council’s rough sleeper alert system, and highly focused efforts on the part of homeless services, both state and private, proved to have a telling impact on reducing the numbers on the streets at that time.

On 28 February, the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) received over 200 reports of rough sleepers about the city overnight.

Charity Depaul, while welcoming today’s rough sleeper figures, also sounded a note of caution.

“It became clear during recent snow events that any number of people sleeping rough is a risk to life and that partial access (where residents must vacate between 10am and 6pm) hostels are in no way acceptable during severe weather,” said the charity’s director of services and development David Carroll.

“Being out for an extended period of time without anywhere to go is difficult, especially for those with health difficulties, the elderly or pregnant women is difficult. In severe weather it is simply hazardous,” he said.

While the number of rough sleepers being reduced by more than 70 is undoubtedly good news, those that have been brought in from rough sleeping are now in emergency hostel accommodation. Depaul has 200 emergency hostel beds, these are partial access. During snow events these beds are opened 24 hours per day.  We continue to advocate, where possible, for partial access beds to be changed to 24-hour access.

Housing First

Doyle, meanwhile, also highlighted the positive impact of the Housing First project in recent months.

“220 tenancies have been created through this programme so far, and we are working to increase this amount on a daily basis,” he said, adding that a further intensification of efforts in the coming months could deliver further decreases.

The Housing First programme has been extremely effective in securing homes for people with a significant history of sleeping rough. Housing First provides tenants with a range of multi-disciplinary wraparound supports, which results in tenancy sustainment rates that are above international norms.

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