Part of a Cork city centre quayside has been branded ‘TentsVille’ after up to a dozen homeless people pitched their tents in the area.
Cork Simon and Cork City Council both said their homeless outreach workers have engaged, and continue to try to engage, with the people living in the various tents which have been pitched on the wharf, inside the railing along St Patrick’s Quay, on the northern channel of the river Lee.
However, they said the tent dwellers have turned down offers of emergency shelter. They said tearing down the tents and leaving people, many with complex needs, without shelter, would probably create more problems in the long-term.
Cork Simon also said it had helped a man and woman who had been living in a small tent on the quayside to secure housing in an apartment three weeks ago.
Work is ongoing to engage with the others, a spokesperson said.
In July, Fine Gael councillor and former lord mayor Des Cahill said the makeshift encampment presents a “poor image of the city”. He called for the tents to be classed as litter and torn down.
“This isn’t a housing issue and they need to be taken down immediately,” he said.
The man who spent several months living in a large white marquee-style structure on the quayside has declined several offers to speak publicly about his circumstances.
He says his name is ‘No Name’ and he has described his living quarters as ‘Freedom Wharf’.
However, several more smaller tents have sprung up alongside his structure in recent weeks.
In a statement last night, Cork City Council said there is bed capacity in the city’s homeless hostels.
Therefore, tent dwellers are visited by the Simon outreach team and Cork City Council’s outreach worker very regularly and invited to avail of the options available,” said the council’s housing directorate.
“The consistent response is one of non-engagement and a wish not to interact with any services.
“Staff are told that this form of accommodation is a personal choice the people concerned have made. Furthermore, they are not asking to be housed.”
A spokesman for Cork Simon said their outreach workers have received a similar response from the tent dwellers.
He said the charity adopted a policy some time ago of not distributing tents to those in need — instead offering a place in either the Simon shelter, or in one of the city’s two other shelters run by other agencies.
He said their outreach team visits the tent dwellers regularly to see if they are OK and that they are reminded regularly of the various shelter options.
“Some do avail of our day service, but they have chosen not to avail of the shelter,” he said.
“We will continue to offer beds in the emergency shelter and hopefully work with them to where they can start to avail of those services.”