Homeless service leaders ‘frustrated’ with ongoing crisis in Dublin city

Tiglin co-founder calls on govt to target and convert derelict buildings

by Rose Barrett
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“We are deeply frustrated by the increase in the number of people in Dublin emergency accommodation recorded in the December 2022 Homeless Report,” said Catherine Kenny, CEO of Dublin Simon Community.

She noted the figures were “highly unusual and concerning for December, which normally features a brief decline in numbers as people are accommodated by family and friends over the Christmas period.”

“This is the eighth month in a row in which we have broken a shocking and dismal record. In Dublin city alone, at least 2,700 households became homeless for the first time in 2022. That’s 52 households per week, or 7 households per day who lost the roof over their heads.

“This equates to five single adults and two families becoming homeless every day in 2022. While 7 households entered homelessness on a daily basis, only two households exited to a home. More and more people are becoming trapped in a system backlog that is straining under immense pressure, and the prospect of a home is moving further and further out of reach.”

Aubrey McCarthy, co-founder of Tiglin which provides long-term rehabilitation and life-changing supports for persons trying to exit addiction, stated it’s time for the government to target derelict buildings in Dublin city – such as hotels.

Aubrey McCarthy, co-founder Tiglin, calls on govt to identify derelict buildings and repurpose as turnkey solutions for the homeless

Speaking to the Irish Independent this week, he stated Tiglin has already done similarly – identified empty buildings which could then be retrofitted ‘as turnkey solutions’ for homeless charities.

Tiglin also co-hosts an outreach food service at The Lighthouse on Pearse Street; the service normally serves dinner up to 250 people per day, but experienced a 30 per cent increase in demand  during the past week.

Mr McCarthy who also serves as Chair on the South West Regional Drug and Alcohol Task Force (inc Kildare and West Wicklow) calls on the government to meet urgently with homeless charities to further an action plan with ever increasing homeless figures, the worst on record for years.

Tiglin already has worked the model of identifying derelict buildings and turning them into ready to go homes for Dublin’s homeless.

‘With some joined-up thinking’, he told the Irish Independent, “We could resolve or reduce the homeless crisis – we all see these properties every day. Part of the answer may well be staring us in the face.”

Adding every person deserves a home, Ms Kenny said emergency accommodation should “only ever be a stop gap on the path to having a home.”

She continued: “The current moratorium on evictions will not continue indefinitely, and we are calling for sustainable exits out of homelessness, rather than knee-jerk temporary measures that fail to address its underlying causes.”

Commentators noted that despite the increased number of new homes delivered in 2022, the eviction ban will lift in April and could cause an even further spike in rentals and house prices.

Simon Communities noted the drop in people exiting homelessness into the private rental sector, even with the support of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).

Only 221 people moved out of homelessness into rented accommodation in the third quarter of last year, significantly, a decrease of 905 people from the same period in 2021.

Ms Kenny concluded: “The delivery of housing is of the utmost priority. It’s the only realistic solution to eradicating homelessness in this country, and to put an end to the tidal wave of hardship and suffering. We are calling on government to deliver a functioning housing market with short, medium and long-term solutions for all of those in need.

“Of critical importance is a revision of ‘Housing for All’ government policy and specific actions and targets related to social housing builds, and critically, an affordable rental market and rental supply which are integral pillars of housing stability.” 

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