Belfast Telegraph

'Cafe' to open for rough sleepers

Dublin's new "Nite Cafe" for rough sleepers will open next week - but will have enough room for less than a third of those sleeping on the streets.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly announced the overnight facility as a key response from the coalition to the capital's homelessness crisis.

Announced as part of a number of measures, sparked by the death last week of rough sleeper Jonathan Corrie in a doorway across the street from the Dail, the cafe will open on Monday.

It will only be able to accommodate 50 people at full capacity, according to Mr Kelly.

Most recent official figures show at least 168 people will be sleeping rough on Dublin's streets in the biting cold over the coming weeks and months.

Furthermore, the Nite Cafe will only open for "a few hours a night" until January, according to the plans rubber-stamped by the Cabinet today.

It is proposed to provide food, rest area and showers seven days a week.

Under the scheme, transport will be laid on to take rough sleepers around the city to emergency accommodation.

Those who do not take up one of the 260 overnight beds being made available before Christmas will be directed to the cafe.

The Department of Environment said it has not yet identified a location for the cafe.

The 20 million euro plan includes an order to Dublin's four housing authorities to give half of housing allocations over the next six months to the homeless and other vulnerable groups.

"I made a commitment that every homeless person in Dublin who needs a bed or emergency accommodation will have one before Christmas but, if they choose otherwise, the new Nite Cafe will be available to them," said Mr Kelly.

"This plan delivers on that commitment."

Separately, homelessness campaigner Father Peter McVerry has called for more "restorative practices" to tackle the problem.

The strategy involves conflict resolution techniques to restore relationships that have broken down, which lead to people leave home.

"Homelessness is often caused by breakdown in community and family relationships, when one party has to leave and has nowhere else to go," he said.

"Restorative practices can help to equip people with better skills to address these conflicts and avoid the worst outcomes."

Fr McVerry called for a country-wide network of restorative practice centres.

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