A homeless charity has warned there will be further deaths of rough sleepers on the streets of Dublin over Christmas if the Government does not intervene.
Chief executive of Dublin based charity, Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH), Anthony Flynn criticised the Government’s response to the homeless crisis, saying Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien needed to take responsibility for rough sleepers dying on his watch.
The bodies of two men, both aged in their 40s, were found on the streets in Dublin city centre in November.
They were found within hours of one another.
One of the men was discovered in a tent on Leinster Lane off Nassau Street, while the other man was found dead at a house on Longford Street off Aungier Street.
He was living in long-term sheltered accommodation.
Mr Flynn said: “These deaths were preventable.
“We have reached out to the Minister.
“We’re in constant contact with the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) through the Lord Mayor’s forum that was set up a number of months ago to address the issue of homelessness in Dublin.”
“We’re spending a hell of a lot of money, and we’re not getting the results that we need in terms of outcomes and exits within homeless services, and we can pat each other on the back as much as we want to about how much has been done but there’s still an awful lot to be done.
“The buck stops with the Minister and the minister has to accept responsibility that there have been deaths on his watch.”
“There are going to be more deaths,” he added.
“There are going to be more deaths over the coming weeks and coming into Christmas as well.
“Unless we actually see a reaction this week from the minister in terms of that, and the Lord Mayor’s taskforce and the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, unfortunately more people will die coming up to Christmas.”
He said up to 60 per cent of the rough sleepers on the streets of Dublin did not have access to bed provision at present because of Covid-19 regulations as they were not from the area.
“We need to take responsibility in terms of those deaths, and I think that we can be doing a hell of a lot more,” he said.
“We need to be more responsive in how we roll out our services and that’s right across the board.
The Dublin city councillor warned that deaths of homeless people on the streets had become normalised and it was not acceptable.
“Moving into 2021 the minister has a hell of a lot of work to do but I think he needs to step up now,” he said.
“There have been a number of deaths since the new minister has come to office, and the DRHE seem to have normalised this and accepted the fact that people are dying on our streets.”
The latest official figures from the Department of Housing show there are more than 8,700 people in emergency accommodation in the country including more than 2,600 children.
The number of homeless, single adults in Dublin surpassed 3,000 for the first time since records began in their current format five years ago.
The latest count of rough sleepers by the DRHE has found 139 people sleeping on the streets of the capital.
Every week Inner City Helping Homeless distributes more than 100 food parcels to families suffering food poverty.
This week the charity will put together up to 600 food parcels from its Glasnevin distribution centre that will be delivered to people in need before Christmas Day.
Mr Flynn said the charity had recorded a significant increase in demand for assistance since the onset of the pandemic.
“What we’ve seen through Covid-19 is an awful lot of people that have lost their jobs, an awful lot of people who went on to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).
“And that has also put an additional strain on the services that we provide,” he said.
“Over the next couple of weeks we’re going to see a further strain on our services and an extra demand from people that have lost their jobs through this year.”
The charity has partnered with the European FEAD Programme and the Food Cloud Programme.
“We’ve got people that can’t put food on the table, that they choose to pay mortgages, to pay bills before they buy food so we’ve seen a different point of flow of people that have looked for access to this programme,” he said.
“This Christmas we want to ensure that everybody that needs access to those services can get access to it.”