Belfast Telegraph

Tent city created outside council HQ to highlight homelessness

Local councillor Anthony Flynn was behind the action after his charity reported a marked increase in the number of people rough sleeping in tents.

The tents were put up on the steps of the city council officers (PA)
The tents were put up on the steps of the city council officers (PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

A local councillor has created a tent city outside the offices of Dublin City Council to highlight the plight of the homeless.

Anthony Flynn, the founder and chief executive of Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) who was recently elected to the council, put up 16 tents on Wood Quay after his charity reported a marked increase in the number of people living in tents over the last several months.

ICHH carries out outreach work seven nights a week advocating for rough sleepers and helping them get off the streets and into hostels.

On Monday, the group said it had recorded the highest ever number of rough sleepers in one night with 238 people on the streets – a number Mr Flynn said is directly linked to the lack of available hostel beds and affordable housing in the city.

Government figures for June showed there were 10,172 homeless people in Ireland, made up of 6,497 adults and 3,675 children, but charities argue the actual figure is far higher as certain groups are not considered in the statistics.

Speaking on Wood Quay, Mr Flynn said: “We have a serious issue in regards to rough sleepers in the city.

“The problem keeps increasing, we have a situation where there’s a 28% increase in the amount of tents that have popped up in the last five months.

“Overall there’s about 40% of those that are being counted as rough sleepers who are sleeping in tents.

“We’ve the working homeless in tents now at the moment.

“We’re sending a message to the council today that we need an adequate response to this, we’ve seen in European counterparts such as Helsinki, they’ve basically eradicated homelessness.

“In Ireland we’re maintaining and sustaining homelessness, it’s a major problem, hundreds of millions of euros are being spent by this building behind us and they’re not producing results in regards to ending the problem.

“We have systemic failure across the board at the moment, we have lots of money being spent by NGOs and others that are not coming together, we need proper rehabilitation programmes, mental health supports and we just don’t have the joined up thinking at the moment.”

ICHH believes the increase in tents is due to the lack of available hostel beds in the city, and the issue of drug use and safety in some hostels keeps people away, especially if they are currently in a drug rehabilitation programme.

Mr Flynn added: “We’ve a lack of couples’ beds, meaning male and females can’t go into units together, and that also forces people to sleep out.

“We’re going into the winter months now and we’re going to have the same problem that we have year on year.

“We’re going to see more people die, like we’ve seen in previous winters, when we see working people now camping out in tents, people can’t pay rent and are being forced on to the street, it’s an epidemic.”

A Dublin City Council spokesman said: “We are acutely aware of the difficulties faced by people who have no option but to access homeless services.

“The Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) strongly believes that there is no need for any individual who experiences homelessness to live in a tent, nor does the DRHE provide funding to services that distribute tents to people who are homeless.

“We do not want sheltering in tents to become normalised and we are actively working with our Outreach Service, An Garda Siochana and Dublin City Council’s Public Domain Unit to prevent this.”

PA

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