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It doesn’t take a long walk through Dublin’s city centre to find somebody without a roof over their head and a bed to sleep in.
There are 6,525 people “officially homeless” in Ireland, a figure referring solely to those people who are known by social services.
Besides this, there are all the people who the system does not take into account, such as people who are reliant on squats, or other people’s couches. Alarmingly, the “official homeless” figure doesn’t count rough sleepers, the epitome of homelessness.
Last month, the number of people sleeping rough in Dublin reached its highest level since records began, according to the Dublin Simon Community, who offer support to those affected by homelessness in Dublin, as well as Kildare, Wicklow and Meath.
Sam McGuinness, a spokesperson for the DSC, said: “People have become trapped in the revolving door of homelessness and the short-term measure of emergency accommodation has become long-term.
“[In] 2015… 90% of our residents [were] deemed long-term homeless (longer than six months) and a shocking 59% homeless for more than two years.”
So what is forcing so many people out onto the streets of Dublin as the weather gradually worsens?
The causes of homelessness tend to be roughly divided into two categories; “structural factors”, i.e. employment rates, affordability of housing, adequacy of mental health services; and “personal factors”, i.e. mental health issues, family situations, and addictions.
For many of the individuals huddled in sleeping bags in the doorways of Dublin’s shops and cafes, the current state of housing availability has had a direct impact on their lives.
One Dublin City Councillor estimated this week that if the subscriptions for the social housing waiting list were suspended immediately, it would take until the year 2039 before everyone in Dublin was in a home.
There are currently 29,756 people on the waiting list for social housing.
The government announced in July a new Housing and Homeless Action Plan, named “Rebuilding Ireland”, a directive which aims to provide an additional 47,000 social houses over the next six years.
Mr McGuinness confirmed this week the commitment of the DSC to the Rebuilding Ireland directive, but stressed the importance of setting specific targets to combat long-term homelessness.
For more information on the Simon Community, and the work they undertake helping homeless people and addressing long-term homelessness in Dublin and across the country, take a look at the website below.