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Homelessness crisis highlighted by Dublin Simon Community

Published 22/09/2015

Around 150 people are sleeping rough each night, according to the charity
Around 150 people are sleeping rough each night, according to the charity

A leading homeless charity has laid bare what it called the humanitarian crisis of homelessness with nearly 2,300 people in emergency accommodation in the capital.

Accusing the Government of doing too little, too slowly, the Dublin Simon Community released a series of damning figures on families, children and single people who are unable to find a roof over their head.

The number of people sleeping rough - on average 150 a night - has exceeded levels seen last Christmas when Jonathan Corrie died in front of Leinster House and ministers were forced to try and solve the problem.

There has been a near doubling of the number of children in emergency accommodation like hostels and hotels.

The long-term homeless figure has grown by 53% in a year.

And Dublin Simon said there are now 1,275 children and 607 families without a home in the capital alone.

Sam McGuinness, the charity's chief, said: "This is outrageous and unacceptable."

He said he wanted to know from Environment Minister Alan Kelly - who last week backed the idea of using modern prefab units for homeless people - how bad the crisis has to get before the Government takes quick and decisive action.

Mr McGuinness added: "We are now faced with a catastrophe where, nine months on from the tragic death of Jonathan Corrie in front of Leinster House the numbers who are rough sleeping have grown despite the provision of 207 extra beds over Christmas last year."

He warned that the figures Dublin Simon records are an absolute minimum as they do not take into account "hidden homeless" people who stay in squats, hospital waiting rooms, B and Bs or couch surf.

Dublin Simon backed other charities working in the homeless sector by calling for an immediate increase in the rent supplement and new rules to be introduced on rent certainty.

Mr McGuinness added: "We must move past discussion and rhetoric and take tangible action now to help people and families who are currently trapped in this crisis.

"Each day, very vulnerable people and families are being met with a complex mix of housing shortages, inadequate rent supplement/allowances and rents rising at a shocking rate."

Dublin Simon works in the capital and Wicklow, Kildare and Meath and said it has increased its accommodation capacity by over 59% in the last year.

Other figures showed the extent of the crisis:

:: Soup runs for rough sleepers delivered more than 50,000 sandwiches, hot drinks and snacks while 200,000 meals were served in its centres.

:: Over 70% of clients were deemed "long term homeless" having been without a home for more than six months.

:: Three quarters of the 400 people who sought tenancy advice and were at risk of homelessness had been living in private rented accommodation.

:: The number of people accessing the charity's services in Kildare, Wicklow and Meath rose by 12%.

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