Latest report points to fall in rough sleeper count in Dublin

by Rose Barrett
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Rose Barrett

Many welcomed this week’s statistics by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE), as carried out by the Dublin Simon Community Outreach Team and supported by the Peter McVerry Trust Housing First Intake Team, which saw a vast reduction (34 persons), 27% down when compared with the same period last year.

The Official Spring Count of people sleeping rough in the Dublin Region was carried out over the week March 28 – April 3,2022. Ninety-one persons were confirmed as rough sleeping across the Dublin region over the week of the count, with 125 individuals found to be rough sleeping during the week-long Spring Rough Sleeper count in March/April 2021.

A reduction of three persons (3%) was recorded for the Winter Count 2021, with 94 people were found to be rough sleeping.

However, while many organisations welcomed the decrease in numbers sleeping rough on Dublin Streets, several volunteer groups urged a note of caution.

Diarmuid ‘Dougie’ Mac Dubhghlais is a volunteer with Erin Nua, and Grubs up Homeless Services, both of which who run soup kitchens on O’Connell Street.

“I’m sceptical about the DRHE figures,” he said. “While I welcome the reduction in sleeping rough figures, I count so many who are ‘sofa surfing’ – a neighbour who may have to sleep on the floor of a relative, or in a mate’s gaff.

“They’re not counted within the DRHE statistics.  I know lads who won’t sleep in a  hostel, in emergency accommodation as they don’t feel safe but they will crash on a mate’s floor or go from house to house.

“The hidden homeless are not on the official radars, and deffo not on the DRHE chart.

The numbers of people who died sleeping rough across the country last year, that number increased. No matter how few it is, it’s still too many. I knew some of them locally, and I believe the number of rough sleepers is higher than the figures show, as evidenced here in Ballymun and Finglas,” he said.

Anthony Walsh of Feed Our Homeless in Finglas similarly feels the situation is worse than the DRHE figures reflect. The organisation has been running for about six years, and operates 365 days per annum.

“We’ve three vans across the city, on average, we feed and visit up to 80-85 rough sleepers a day. That is a drop to pre Covid times when we called to anything from 100-130 rough sleepers.

“The issue we see every day is that many homeless persons won’t take up the emergency accommodation. Some don’t have drug or addiction issues but they feel intimidated within the hostels, they’ve had their belongings stolen. Even if they’re not on drugs themselves, they watch others openly practising drug use. It’s the three to four persons per room that is an issue. “

Anthony noted that there is a serious lack of single apartments in affordable accommodation and in emergency services.

“It’s hard for couples and individuals – they really need one bed affordable accommodation. And many feel safer on the street! Some are elderly – I know a few in their 70s, forced out after years in rentals.

“They need safe and secure accommodation, with wrap around support, not just bed and breakfast and out the door.”

Of the 91 people met rough sleeping, 72 had previously been assessed by the DRHE for homeless services, and the remaining 19 persons were actively engaged with the Outreach teams and being assessed by homeless services.   

The majority of people confirmed as rough sleeping were male, Irish and aged between 26-45 years; 79% were linked with one of the four Dublin local authorities; 31% were using tents and 69% were not; 13 individuals were found rough sleeping in both the Winter 2021 and Spring 2022 counts. A number of these are being targeted for a Housing First response, which will provide them with permanent housing and visiting supports to help them sustain their home. 

The DRHE sincerely thanks Dublin Simon Community, Peter McVerry Trust, An Garda Síochána, the HSE and staff in the four Dublin Local Authorities for the co-ordinated response to end rough sleeping. See the full report at www.homelessdublin.ie 

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