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homeless criss

Enda: Getting all the rough sleepers off the streets would be very difficult

The Taoiseach said he hoped the numbers could be dramatically reduced, following a forum on homelessness to take place in Dublin on Thursday.

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has said it would be “very difficult” to get the numbers sleeping rough on the streets of Dublin down to zero.

But he said that if all the authorities and agencies working to address homelessness got behind the same objective, he hoped the numbers could be reduced dramatically.

Discussing the death of Jonathan Corrie, who died overnight on Sunday in a doorway just metres from the gates of Leinster House, Kenny said he was “distressed” to hear of the man’s passing.

He also detailed the immediate steps being taken to find short-term accommodation for people — noting that 164 new emergency bed spaces would be coming on stream by early January.

The latest official count of ‘rough sleepers’ in the capital — taken last month — but the the figure at 168.

Kenny said “significant” funding had been given to NGOs working in the city.

And he added:

In regard to the issue of rough sleeping on the streets of Dublin —where the count has shown an increase in numbers — it’s not actually a question of allocation of money here.

“For instance, arrangements are now in place to expand the number of emergency bed spaces.

“There’s a total of 164 being sourced by Dublin City Council.

“38 of those are already in place. [There'll be] another 30 by the 8th of December — that’s later this week

“[There'll be] another 76 by the 15th of December, and a further 20 by the fifth of January.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Kenny said there were also 655 vacant units in the hands of Dublin City Council that are being refurbished and returned to use, and said work had started on 245 of those projects.

He also highlighted the work being done by the “Housing First Service” — run by Focus Ireland and the Peter McVerry Trust — to help people move from hostels into longer-term accommodation.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly is to host an emergency summit on homelessness on Thursday — to be attended by the mayors of the four Dublin local authorities, NGOs, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, and others.

The Taoiseach said that arising out of that meeting, “we can reflect on what’s the best impact, what’s the best effect that — considering the monies that are being spent here through the NGOs — that rough sleepers in the first place can be given a roof over their heads and a place to stay”. 

From speaking to people genuinely — some of these cases are so complex that it’s very difficult to be actually able to say that you can get all the people off the streets. Some of them have particular problems.

Addressing the Ceann Comhairle, he recalled “a good lady who used to sleep over there in a box in Molesworth Street way back in the mid 1970s”, adding that “despite the efforts of all the agencies at that time” it was very difficult to persuade her to move into a hostel or other emergency accommodation.

He said that, given the number of vacant spaces in the city, if people united behind one objective “the numbers of rough sleepers in the city should be very very limited”.

First published 4.21 pm

Read: Alan Kelly will hold an emergency summit after homeless man found dead near Leinster House

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