Merchants Quay homeless night cafe sees 'more coming in for economic reasons' in last year

The number of unique clients using the country's first homeless night cafe rose by 10% last year, with Merchants Quay Ireland revealing that more people pushed into homelessness because of the housing crisis are accessing the service.

Merchants Quay homeless night cafe sees 'more coming in for economic reasons' in last year

The number of unique clients using the country's first homeless night cafe rose by 10% last year, with Merchants Quay Ireland revealing that more people pushed into homelessness because of the housing crisis are accessing the service.

MQI has run the homeless night cafe in Dublin city centre since the start of 2015, offering mats on the floor for 55 people each night of the year and a chance to avail of its related services.

Figures for last year show a rise of 10% in the number of unique clients to 2,105 people, 86% of whom were men.

MQI said there was a significant increase in the number of service users who were homeless purely for economic reasons and not addiction or family breakdown situations. It also said there has been an increase in the number of clients trying to hold down a job but with no permanent place to live.

Fiona McDonnell, MQI Homeless Services Co-ordinator, said: "One trend is there are more coming in for economic reasons, not addiction or family breakdown."

Ms McDonnell said many of those people were using services such as the night cafe because they had been evicted from their accommodation and/or were struggling to find new lodgings in Dublin's rental market.

"We do see people presenting who are working," she said. "We are definitely seeing more of it - foreign nationals, people in construction, couples.

"People are still trying their best to hold down the job but the longer you are in one-night-only accommodation the harder it is to keep that going."

However, while there were more unique clients, the number of visits to the night cafe overall actually fell last year, albeit marginally.

The figures show there were 21,684 referrals made to the night cafe last year. There was a 3% fall in the number of average monthly visits last year by clients, as well as a 9% fall in the average number of presentations per night.

The night cafe does not cater for families and takes referrals from the Central Placement Service (CPS), its own intake team and other sources. On any given night some people earmarked to attend will not show up.

Almost 20% of those attending the night cafe last year were aged 30-34 and there were fewer people aged 45 and above attending. The figures also show that 58% of those attending were Irish, 21% were European and 10% were non-EU.

Regarding the rise in clients but the fall in attendance, Ms McDonnell said MQI had no simple explanation, adding that numbers fluctuated during the year, dictated by weather and special initiatives which sometimes increased overall emergency accommodation numbers in the capital.

She also said there was a rise in care leavers becoming homeless and as a result increased efforts to secure longer-term accommodation for them.

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