Homeless people 'extremely concerned' about Covid-19 crisis

Homeless people 'extremely concerned' about Covid-19 crisis

A homeless charity said many of the people it assists are worried about how the coronavirus pandemic will impact their health and the health of those they interact with.

Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) criticised the Housing Minister's plans to protect homeless people and families in emergency accommodation at this time.

Minister Eoghan Murphy announced he would give additional funding to charities and provide extra food and supplies to families living in emergency accommodation.

"Earlier this week I guaranteed our NGOs any additional funding that is needed to take the necessary actions to keep users of their services safe, as well as their own staff," Minister Murphy said.

"Because of early action we have been in a position to secure facilities across the country for self-isolation that can be used if required. We will continue to secure more places as needed and discussions with other state sectors are ongoing in this regard.

"I know that many people and families currently accessing emergency accommodation will be worried for themselves and their families. I want to assure these households that their health and safety is a priority and we are working very closely with the HSE to do all we can to respond."

The ICHH's CEO said people living in those situations are still fearful, despite the Minister's comments.

ICHH volunteers delivering supplies
ICHH volunteers delivering supplies

"The comments from the Minister this evening have done nothing to reassure people that are homeless that they are a priority during the Covid-19 pandemic. Hostels are still filled to capacity and our outreach teams are assisting up to 90 people a night sleeping rough on the streets," said Anthony Flynn

"Our teams are reporting services users to be extremely concerned and asking what will happen to them over the coming weeks. The Minister has tonight done nothing to alleviate these fears.

The Minister stated that they have secured facilities across the country for self-isolation 'should it be required'. This indicates that the extra facilities will be used by people that have tested positive for Covid-19 and need to self-isolate. Isolating someone at this point would be too late.

Mr Flynn added it is impossible for homeless people to self-isolate to prevent the spread of the virus.

"The Taoiseach advised people this week in addressing the nation that they need to self-isolate and prevent the spread of the virus however homeless hostels are full with multiple people still sharing a room risking a mass infection if anyone has the virus. ICHH have also been supporting families all week who are living in emergency accommodation with food and supplies and they feel abandoned with no real guidance or support."

He called on the government to use the Aviva Stadium to provide accommodation for those without a home.

It comes as 102 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the country. There are now 785 confirmed cases in Ireland.

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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