A voluntary agency working on the frontline of homeless services in Dublin has warned of an “avalanche” of people becoming homeless after the government ended a Covid-19 emergency ban on evictions less than two weeks ago.
Chief executive of Inner City Helping Homelessness (ICHH) Anthony Flynn was commenting after a family of nine were evicted from their Dublin home on Wednesday afternoon and faced the prospect of rough sleeping.
“There are no physical supports in terms of where these families are supposed to go.
"This family was not offered accommodation and could only be offered sleeping bags and that’s completely and totally unacceptable,” Mr Flynn said.
“If we hadn’t stepped in that family of nine would have slept rough on the streets,” he added.
It is understood that a private security firm served a cease and desist order on the tenants in Phisborough, who were removed from the property along with their possessions on Wednesday afternoon.
Mr Flynn confirmed on Thursday evening that the tenants had since returned to the property after the eviction was deemed invalid.
The property was found to be damaged when the tenants returned 24 hours later and a team of volunteers, including electricians and carpenters, were onsite to assist with repairs.
It is unclear who caused the damage.
A number of Gardaí had also attended at the property during the eviction, prompting Social Democrats TD Garry Gannon to seek clarification on the role of Gardaí in evictions and why Gardaí attended at the scene when no court order or legal documentation was issued.
“There appears to be no legal grounds on which gardaí were there in such numbers, other than to support the landlord in evicting tenants on very dubious legal grounds,” Mr Gannon said in a letter to Chief Superintendent McMenamin.
I’ve written to the Garda Chief Superintendent asking for the legal basis on which the Gardaí were aiding an eviction without court order in Phibsborough last night. I’ll update once a response is received. pic.twitter.com/iDlI7EXqX2— Gary Gannon TD (@1GaryGannon) August 13, 2020
Mr Flynn, who also sits on Dublin City Council, said the homelessness situation was reverting “back to the norm” and evictions and rough sleepers were rising since Covid-19 emergency measures were relaxed.
“With the eviction ban being lifted we’re going to see an avalanche of people becoming homeless,” Mr Flynn said.
"Homeless services are not ready for that avalanche,” he added.
The number of rough sleepers increased to 164 last Monday, the highest number so far this year, he said.
“Bed availability in the city is not where it was through Covid-19,” Mr Flynn said.
“We’re back to the norm now. Last night we had a family in Store Street Garda Station with young children that presented at 10pm because there was nowhere available,” he added.
“Over the past week we have taken five steps backward in relation to homeless services and it’s not a good sign,” he said.
The council, he said, should look to tourist accommodation, such as hostels and Air BnBs, that are not currently in use to accommodate people.
Meanwhile, housing charity Threshold said it would continue to monitor the situation and encouraged families and individuals facing eviction to contact its tenancy protection service and helpline on 1800 454 454 between 9am and 9pm.
“Our national helpline is here if anyone is worried about losing their home or are threatened by eviction,” Threshold CEO John Mark McCafferty said.