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Hundreds of extra winter beds for rough sleepers in Dublin

Published 04/11/2015

A sleepout on Connell Street, Dublin, in aid of homelessness charity The Peter McVerry Trust
A sleepout on Connell Street, Dublin, in aid of homelessness charity The Peter McVerry Trust

Hundreds of extra shelter beds are being set up to stop rough sleepers dying in Dublin over the winter.

The additional 195 single beds and 55 units for couples and families has been criticised as a signal of the Government's failure to stem homelessness.

The Peter McVerry Trust said the root cause of the problem needed increased rent supplements, rent controls and more social housing to stop people ending up on the streets.

"The reality is that the Cold Weather Initiative is planning to provide additional homeless accommodation to over 500 people between now and Christmas," said Pat Doyle, chief executive of the trust.

"That in itself is a scandalous reflection of the failure by Government to protect those most at risk in Irish society."

The extra beds were announced by Dublin City Council as part of the Annual Cold Weather Initiative.

The scheme to prevent deaths and serious harm to rough sleepers in the capital runs from November to April.

The additional beds do not include an extra 250 temporary shelter places which remain in place after an emergency summit on the homelessness crisis last year.

"The Government must listen to the calls from agencies like Peter McVerry Trust to increase rent supplement rates, to immediately introduce rent certainty, and to progress modular and traditional housing much quicker than is currently the case," said Mr Doyle.

"If housing supply was the only issue involved in tackling homelessness then we wouldn't have had 5,000 homeless people at the height of the housing boom."

Homelessness charity Dublin Simon Community said the extra beds were critical to get people off the streets over winter but warned the scheme would feed into a bottle neck created by the Government's lack of long-term vision.

"We now are faced with a situation where 2,330 adults, 637 families and 1,343 children are stuck in the misery and uncertainty of emergency accommodation without any prospect of permanent housing to move onto, said Sam McGuinness, the organisation's chief executive.

"The extra beds will thankfully move people from the vulnerability of the streets - however they will simply add to the emergency figures which have been steadily increasing since the last year."

Latest official figures show a more than 100% jump in the number of families forced into emergency accommodation , alongside a 43% rise in adults needing crisis shelter.

"Without the prevention initiatives such as the provision of adequate rent certainty measures and an increase in rent supplement, there is nothing to curtail the ever rising flow of people into homelessness," added Mr McGuinness.

"Rent supplement limits are simply too low, as rents continue to soar in Dublin and the number of homes available to rent decreases."

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