Homelessness is ‘big business’ Claims Érin Nua volunteer

by Rose Barrett
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As the cold spell is upon us and Met Eireann warns temperatures will drop to possibly minus six over the coming days, Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) has promised to provide enough emergency accommodation beds in Dublin to cater for the capital’s ever growing homeless numbers.

At Monday night’s meeting of Dublin City Council, Sinn Fein’s Cllr Daithí Doolan raised the plight of 186 families who have been listed homeless in Dublin for one year or more.

Following a question raised by the Ballyfermot-Drimnagh councillor, he was horrified to learn that 80 families alone had been homeless for over two years!

“A further 784 single people have been homeless for over 12 months. This is deeply traumatic for them, but particularly for children. These figures do not include the several hundred families currently ‘sofa surfing’.

“It’s shocking,” he added. “These are families and individuals who are victims of a collapsing private rental market, spiralling rents and a government that is blindly sleep-walking through the crisis. 

For Dougie MacDubhghlais from Finglas, a volunteer with Éire Nua which provides food and clothing for the homeless and needy in Dublin’s city centre, the problem is a cycle of response from an ever- increasing voluntary sector – along with “Homelessness is big business,” he claimed.

“By that I mean, registered charities are frequently referring people to us. ‘Go down to Dougie or someone at Éire Nua’ the homeless are told. 

“I’m stressed out sometimes when charities refer people to the likes of me and other voluntary services. These are registered charities where the CEO or communications staff are on a high wage. 

“That money should be going into homeless services. Monies should all be going to the end user, the man and woman or sadly children living on the street. 

“Some emergency accommodation units have a security guy on the door, and others provide food from professional caterers. Donations are diluted on the way down to the end user, I’m frustrated with the whole system.”

The solution he said is the ‘own door’ accommodation as proposed by the Peter McVerry Trust.

“That’s what we need and we need it quickly – last year in fact. People need a safe room, just a single housing unit with their own local and key.

“I have no faith in the DRHE and the government; they just talk and talk, and send out the right sounding bites but there’s NO Follow up. Every cold spell or homeless death, they respond in the short term and the crisis goes on and on.

“The DRHE say they have beds to meet this week’s crisis. But the dormitory beds in emergency accommodation hubs are not SAFE beds.” 

“Homeless persons have been robbed, beaten – even hospitalised, that’s the reality. The DRHE don’t publicise these incidents: ‘They can’t comment on individual cases’ so it’s not publicised within the media – people  attacked in community spaces and emergency shelters.

“People who are currently in addiction services or recovery simply do not feel safe in these ‘accommodation hubs’ which the government provides.  They are surrounding by alcohol and drugs and feel extra vulnerable by the temptation around them.

“The voluntary groups catering for the homeless in Dublin are a sticking plaster on a gaping wound, a finger in the dyke.”

He continued: “It will be a miracle if the DRHE have enough beds this week for Dublin’s homeless – and if they can magic the additional beds out of thin air, why can they not provide them every week?

“Since November 2021, the queues are longer not shorter The queue will be from the Cu Chulaiin  window at the GPO on O’Connell Street all the way down to the corner of Henry Street. It’s just dreadful to see, pitiful for the people living on the streets.”

Éire Nua volunteers hand out food and clothing, coats and outerwear, toiletries, footwear anything that helps to alleviate the suffering of the homeless on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from after 6pm until supplies run out. Douggie noted there is a growing army of voluntary group and registered charities feeding and clothing Dublin’s homeless throughout the week and still the queues get bigger

Featured Image: Volunteers with Eire Nua Samara and Nora outside the GPO on Monday

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