New data shows 115 homeless people died in Dublin last year

New data shows 115 homeless people died in Dublin last year

Dublin Regional Homeless Executive, in its most recent update to city councillors, said 6,707 people were homeless in Dublin by the end of February. 

A total of 115 homeless people died in Dublin last year, more than double the number who died in 2019.

New data released under Freedom of Information shows an increasing number of deaths among the homeless community in the capital. 

In 2020, there were 76 deaths recorded. In 2019 and 2018, the number was under 50.

The figures show that, last year, 34 people died in long-term accommodation. A further 23 each died in private and short-term accommodation, 13 in shielding facilities, five in housing-first accommodation, five in outreach services, eight in visiting supports, and four who were not service users.

The figure brings to 287 the number of homeless people who have died in the capital since 2018. Dublin Regional Homeless Executive, in its most recent update to city councillors, said 6,707 people were homeless in Dublin by the end of February. 

However, that update said that the impact of Covid-19 on deaths of homeless people had been limited.

"The number of Covid-related deaths has not changed at three residents from Long-Term Supported Housing. As of 16th February, there were 662 confirmed (cumulative) cases within Dublin Homeless Services," the report says.

Mortality rates

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien last year commissioned a report by Austin O'Carroll after a spike in homeless deaths early in the year. Dr O'Carroll's interim report recommended that mortality rates could be cut by ending long-term homelessness. The report also said that an outreach mental health team should be established and that work should be done to cut overdose-related fatalities.

Dr O'Carroll also found that the mortality rate rises significantly once a person has been in emergency accommodation for 18 months or more. Some 68% of single homeless deaths last year were among those in emergency accommodation for longer than 18 months.

Contributory factors could include the age profile of those who are long-term homeless and the effect of homelessness on health.

The report indicates that lower life expectancy and higher mortality rates associated with social disadvantage and addiction are the primary reasons for the excess rate of mortality among people living in homelessness compared with the general population.

The updated data on deaths was released to Aontú leader Peader Tóibín. He said the figures made him "extremely angry".

In November 2020, Mr Tóibín had called on the Government to investigate the rising number of homeless deaths in Dublin. He did so in the context of the winter months and a fear that the cold weather could lead to more deaths on the city's streets.

"These people could easily have been our brothers or sisters, our sons or daughters, our parents," he said. "We need to do better by vulnerable people in this country, and we are calling on the Government to provide an immediate and urgent update on the ongoing review."

A spokesperson for the Department of Housing said addressing homelessness is a "key priority" for the Government.

'Cause of great concern'

"The death of any person experiencing homelessness is a cause of great concern and this matter is being taken very seriously. It is important to establish the facts concerning the circumstances involved, and that a response is based on the best knowledge and evidence available," they said.

A pilot study on data collection of homeless deaths is currently being undertaken nationally by the Health Research Board on behalf of the Department of Health and is due to be completed shortly, the spokesperson added.

It includes the review of 17,000 files from all coroner districts.

"The department will engage with the Department of Health on completion of this study," they said.

"It is vital that we continue to deliver the appropriate measures to support all individuals experiencing homelessness. The department is working closely with the Department of Health, the HSE, and local authorities in doing this."

More in this section

Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

Cookie Policy Privacy Policy FAQ Help Contact Us Terms and Conditions

© Irish Examiner Ltd