A woman working on the frontline of the homeless scandal has branded the surge in tent living a “national crisis”.

Christina Chalmers, who leads Helping Cork’s Homeless, warned of more deaths of rough sleepers in the months ahead unless there is a radical shift in government policy.

“This is just January — we’ve February and March to get through yet. It’s getting colder — we have cold weather and snow alerts. People are going to die on the streets,” she said.

Ms Chalmers, speaking yesterday after attending an inquest into the death of a young woman with addiction and mental health issues in a tent in Cork City last September, said the Government just doesn’t get the scale of the homelessness problem or have the right strategy to address the complex range of issues which can combine to result in a person sleeping in a tent.

She said the stereotypical image that a homeless person is the person holding a bottle in a brown bag is no longer valid. “It can be any one of us,” said Ms Chalmers.

“They (Government) really don’t have a clue. There are too many people living in tents around Cork City. It’s shocking.

Christina Chalmers of the Helping Cork’s Homeless group. Pic: Cork Courts Limited
Christina Chalmers of the Helping Cork’s Homeless group. Pic: Cork Courts Limited

“There are people out in Bishopstown living in underground car parks, there are people down the Marina living in tents, tents are being robbed, there are people in Fitzgerald’s Park whose tents are being burned out.

“It’s just a national crisis and something needs to be done — houses need to be built. More (emergency) beds need to be provided.”

Ms Chalmers pointed to the fact that Kathleen O’Sullivan died while sleeping rough on the streets of Cork just before Christmas, and that Ms O’Sullivan’s aunt also died sleeping rough in the city some seven years earlier.

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