Homeless services report surge in rough sleepers as Storm Ellen hit

ireland
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Sarah Mooney
Almost 150 people were sleeping rough on the streets of Dublin last night as the tail end of Storm Ellen hit the capital, according to outreach group Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH).

It comes as ICHH teams have reported a considerable jump in the number of people sleeping rough around the city over the past 2 weeks, with the group’s volunteers assisting 146 people sleeping rough last night.

The organisation said this is the average number of people it has interacted with each night over the past two weeks, with the number peaking on August 12th as 164 people slept on the streets.

ICHH CEO Anthony Flynn said last night’s number is unacceptable: “Yesterday assurances were given from the Dublin Region Homeless Executive that extra bed capacity would be available so no person would have to sleep rough and that hostels would be rolling 24 hour access.

“This clearly didn't happen.”

“As we enter winter months things will worsen and we are not prepared by any means. The Minister has been silent on the matter of rough sleeping from the day he entered office and it’s high time he initiated a meaningful plan,” he said.

The organisation has also said the number of deaths within those who are homeless over the past four weeks has been “unprecedented,” with “numbers well into double figures right across the country.”

“Yesterday we saw another death by suicide where a young man ended up in the River Liffey. People are suffering,” Mr Flynn said.

The organisation said the rise in “avoidable” deaths “highlights the lack of proper wrap around supports including mental health” and “the consequences of Covid-19 and the uncertainty among people that are homeless”.

Evictions and rising rents

It comes as Focus Ireland has called for the reintroduction of eviction bans and rent freezes to prevent a spike in homelessness following new Covid-19 restrictions.

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Charity CEO Pat Dennigan warned that measures must be taken to prevent outbreaks of Covid-19 within emergency homeless accommodation: “The level of risk will inevitably increase if more people need emergency accommodation as a result of a new wave of evictions from the private rental sector.”

The charity said that following the lifting of the initial ban on evictions and rent reviews, its services had been meeting tenants facing notices of terminations and evictions.

While we are working with them to try to avoid an entry into homelessness, the challenges of Covid-19 make this a very stressful and difficult experience for people to navigate.

“While we are working with them to try to avoid an entry into homelessness, the challenges of Covid-19 make this a very stressful and difficult experience for people to navigate,” Mr Dennigan said.

Focus Ireland has called for the Department of Housing to work with the Attorney General’s Office to identify “a way forward” for further legislative protections in the area.

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