Homelessness charity disputes latest rough sleeper numbers calling them a 'sugarcoating exercise'

Update 12.08pm: A homelessness charity has disputed the 40% drop in homeless figures in the capital.

The figures for the DRHE official spring rough sleeper count released today show that 110 people were counted during the official count in the city.

Inner City Helping Homeless welcomed the reduction but disputed the figures, saying that the route used by the DRHE does not include certain areas of Dublin city, particularly those off the beaten track.

They said the figures are "questionable and need further scrutiny".

ICHH CEO, Anthony Flynn, said: "Any decrease regarding the number of people sleeping rough is welcomed but the figures released must be realistic.

"Recent storms have shown us an actual increase in numbers as many who choose to sleep in areas that were unknown to outreach teams surfaced, these are individuals that are not being counted within the overall figure as the areas they are in are not covered by the DRHE teams.

The count is far from accurate as areas such as beaches, parks and squats are not taken into account during the count and unless we have accurate figures the count is pointless.

"This is another clear sugarcoating exercise ahead of the release of the overall homeless figure due this week."

8.01am: Latest figures find drop in rough sleeper numbers in Dublin

There has been a 40% decrease in the number of rough sleepers on the streets of Dublin.

New figures due to be released by the Department of Housing later show the number of people sleeping rough dropped from 184 in winter 2017 to 110 in spring 2018.

The count was carried out by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, which does two counts a year.

Brendan Kenny, Deputy Chief Executive at Dublin City Council, welcomed the decrease.

He said: “We have been working with our charity partners to increase emergency accommodation, and have in the last few months increased capacity by 260 permanent beds.

"This has had a significant positive outcome in terms of decreasing the numbers of people sleeping rough.

"However, the large number of people sleeping rough is still a serious area of concern and we will continue to work through the Housing First Service to engage with these people and work with them to access appropriate services.”

Pat Doyle, CEO of the Peter McVerry Trust, says they are delighted with the latest figures.

Mr Doyle said: "Winter ones are always up on the spring, but even from last spring it's down by 20% and that's just great.

"A lot of us, Dublin City Council, the DRHE and our partners in the sector are working hard to get the numbers down.

"The snow, (Storm) Emma certainly had an impact because we brought in a 170-odd people who had been out on the street during the snow."

Homelessness charity, Depaul, said the reduction can be explained through the introduction of an additional 200 emergency hostel beds to the system.

However, the charity said that any number of rough sleepers is too many and that more must be done for those trapped in the difficult situation of relying on One Night Only, ‘partial access’ accommodation.

These are facilities where people have to leave in the morning at around 10 am and cannot return until around 6pm in the evening.

While the number sleeping on Dublin’s streets has reduced, the number of single adults without child dependents struggling in emergency accommodation is at 3,621, according to February figures from the Department for Housing.

    Of the 110 people found sleeping rough:

  • 51 had a PASS record, 7 did not have a PASS record and of the remaining 52, there were insufficient details provided to ascertain whether they had a PASS record;
  • 58% were Irish national, 42% were non-Irish nationals and 31 individuals did not have their nationality identified;
  • 90 people were discovered in Dublin City (North and South) and the remaining 20 were located outside Dublin City, Fingal County Council, South Dublin County Council and Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council;
  • 84% were male, and 16% were female.

Depaul Director of Services and Development, David Carroll, said: “Much effort has been made by all parties over the winter to reduce and eliminate the need for individuals to sleep rough particularly during the severe weather events.

It became clear during recent snow events that any number of people sleeping rough is a risk to life and that partial access hostels are in no way acceptable during severe weather.

"Being out for an extended period of time without anywhere to go is difficult, especially for those with health difficulties, the elderly or pregnant women is difficult. In severe weather it is simply hazardous.

"While the number of rough sleepers being reduced by more than 70 is undoubtedly good news, those that have been brought in from rough sleeping are now in emergency hostel accommodation."

Depaul has 200 partial access, emergency hostel beds which are opened 24 hours a day during snow events, but Mr Carroll wants them changed to 24-hour access beds.

Mr Carroll said: "We continue to advocate, where possible, for partial access beds to be changed to 24-hour access Supported Temporary Stay 6 month beds so that vulnerable homeless people have a degree of security and support and not stay in homelessness for longer than necessary.

"We also advocate for greater consideration to be given to housing options for single homeless adults.”

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