Emergency homeless services already stretched beyond their means

Credit RTE.ie

Credit rte.ie

The Homeless Charity Trust has warned many more homeless people will die over the coming winter months due to a lack of emergency accommodation in the capital.

A man in his forties died overnight in Bray over the weekend while sleeping rough in the town.

The prediction follows the news yesterday that the number of people living rough on the streets of Dublin trebled in the last year.

The homeless action plan, Sustaining the Pathway to Home, is being conducted by Dublin’s four local authorities and will be implemented early next year.

The report states “the demand for access to emergency accommodation and related homeless services in Dublin is deepening”, while affordable and adequate housing remains extremely limited.

The draft also highlights the growing issue of people living on the streets for the first time.

One third of the 2,886 people accessing homeless services in the first six months of the year were using them for the first time.

These figures follow on from last year where over half of the 4,837 people using such emergency services were utilizing them for the first time.

The decision to move away from an emergency accommodation approach to a housing first solution to combat homelessness appears not to have aided the drastic situation.

Last year only 879 people “successfully moved away from homelessness back into independent living”.

Francis Doherty of the Peter McVerry Trust said that these figures would continue to increase as a result of rising rents in Dublin City despite the economic troubles of many Irish people.

In February the Minister of State for Housing Jan O’Sullivan announced the Government’s ambition to eliminate long-term homelessness by 2016.

Despite this, Government expenditure on social housing has been slashed from €1.3 billion in 2008 to €275 million last year, resulting in only 1,500 units being constructed annually for social housing initiatives compared to 8,000 previously.

Alice Leahy of Trust said: “The government is not accepting the fact that there is a need for emergency accommodation”, before declaring Trust cannot accommodate the high demand for places in its already fully occupied premises.

Doherty of the McVerry Trust was more optimistic, praising the new government initiative which allows people in financial trouble to receive rent allowance while working.

The next set of results, acquired two weeks ago, are expected to show another increase in people on the streets.

Ronan Morrissey

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