Belfast Telegraph

Councillors call on government to act on ‘new working homeless’

The government has been accused of failing to deliver housing and to control rents.

Photo issued by Councillor Lawrence Hemmings of a Deliveroo driver living in a tent in Dublin city centre (Lawrence Hemmings/PA)
Photo issued by Councillor Lawrence Hemmings of a Deliveroo driver living in a tent in Dublin city centre (Lawrence Hemmings/PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

A Dublin councillor has criticised the government over creating the “new working homeless”.

Lawrence Hemmings, a Green Party councillor for Donaghmede was on his way to work in Dublin city centre on Wednesday when he spotted a tent on the street with a delivery bag inside and a bike locked next to it.

The councillor took a picture of the scene and posted it to his Twitter account with the message: “Bicycle locked. Deliveroo bag ready for the day’s work.

“The new working homeless.

“Government is failing to deliver public and affordable housing and failing to control rents.”

Mr Hemmings said he took the picture as he felt compelled to show people the reality of those in employment but still without a home.

“It was clearly someone who is homeless trying to work in precarious self employment, and attempting to have some shelter, have a sleep, not having somewhere better to stay somewhere other than with their bike locked next to their tent, it’s an absolutely desperate situation,” he said.

“I was outraged, just outraged, there’s a homelessness crisis that’s being going on here for a long time, but this seemed different.

“We had stories over the weekend of around 500 people queuing for food bank donations, and a lot of them employed, that’s a stark visual of the reality people are living in.

“Rents are sky high across Ireland, and rent controls have had limited effect.”

Fellow councillor and founder of Inner City Helping Homeless Anthony Flynn said the picture came as no shock to him or his staff.

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of people in tents in the last five months,” he said.

“We’ve counted 186 people in tents, recorded our highest number of rough sleepers, 238, on Monday.

“40% of that were people in tents.

“More recently we’re seeing an epic failure in relation to housing action implementation and a lack of emergency beds.

“There’s an issue of safety within in units, many people are not accessing the homeless hostels or units because of the drug abuse taking place there.

“We’re in a situation where we have no dry hostels and people are forced into tents as some are going through rehabilitation themselves, and don’t want to be around drug use.

“Things are getting worse, not better.

“As for the today’s picture, we’re in situation now where the shock factor of these pictures is being lost, that’s the reality of the working poor we’re seeing on a daily basis.

“I’m worried is it becoming socially acceptable?”

Mr Flynn along with other homelessness advocates are holding a protest outside Dublin City Council offices to highlight the issue of people living in tents across the city.

“Tomorrow we’ll be calling on the Minister (for Housing Eoghan Murphy) to take action, and put in place a multi-agency approach including detox facilities and mental health services to tackle the issues head on,” Mr Flynn said.

The June tally found there are 10,172 homeless people in Ireland, made up of 6,497 adults and 3,675 children, it has been labelled by the government as the worst homelessness crisis in the history of the state.

A Deliveroo spokesperson have said there is no evidence to prove that the person photographed is a Deliveroo rider.

“Deliveroo is making efforts to contact the individual concerned to establish whether they are a rider.

“If they are, we will offer support working with local agencies,” a statement said.

“Deliveroo cares deeply about all riders who choose to work with us.”

PA

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