City’s homeless helpers now out as far as Swords

by Sylvia Pownall

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]Homeless charities are now travelling from the city out as far as Swords to offer support to people sleeping rough, it has emerged.

Inner City Helping Homeless chief Anthony Flynn said homeless people are sleeping in tents in outlying suburbs – and on beaches – to avoid city centre hostels.

He said: “When we set up five years ago, our main focus was the city centre. Now our outreach support vehicles are travelling out as far as Swords and other areas.”

A report this week revealed that the number sleeping rough in Dublin has increased to 156, up from 110 in the Spring count.

Campaigner Fr Peter McVerry said that while charities are doing their best to tackle the homeless crisis, it is “like trying to stop a runaway train with no brakes”.

ICHH co-founder Anthony Flynn said there were more and more homeless moving out of the city centre into the suburbs and this was proving a challenge.

He said: “There are a lot of tents popping up. In hostels people are put into overcrowded rooms; they may be put into rooms with others who have difficulties with addiction or substance abuse.

“We’re at a stage now where people want to be in a tent rather than access hostel-style facilities. We have a van going out to them every night.”

The latest official figures show there are 9,724 people homeless, including 3,725 children, but campaigners reckon the true figure is at least 2,000 people higher.

Earlier this week it emerged that the State owns 96 buildings across the country that are lying vacant, including 53 empty garda stations on the OPW’s portfolio.

Mr Flynn said: “People are dying. There have already been four lives lost in the last six weeks as Winter arrived. One of these buildings could quite easily be turned into emergency accommodation.”

In response to a parliamentary question from Fingal TD Louise O’Reilly (SF), Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe defended the number of vacant properties, claiming it was “typical of such large portfolios”.

Publishing its annual report on Monday, the Peter McVerry Trust revealed it worked with record numbers last year, helping almost 5,000 people, up 40% since 2011.

Fr McVerry warned: “Homelessness is now at crisis level. It is not just a social crisis but a personal crisis for each and every person who becomes homeless.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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