Charity warns 'questions to be answered' following latest homeless tragedy

Residents have complained about unsafe living conditions in emergency accommodation

Charity warns 'questions to be answered' following latest homeless tragedy

Image: Anthony Flynn/Twitter

Inner City Helping Homeless has said the government has questions to answer about why people are still dying on our streets.

It comes after the body of a homeless man in his 50s was found in Dublin 1 this morning.

It is the first reported death of a rough sleeper in 2018 after a number of deaths in 2017.

Speaking on the Hard Shoulder this evening, Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) CEO Anthony Flynn said the trend can't be allowed to continue this year:

“The big question needs to be asked, ‘was this individual offered a bed over the last number of nights from the Dublin Region Homeless Executive.’

“Or has he been accessing any other types of services through the homelessness system?

“The bigger question is, were there beds empty in the system last night? And if there were beds empty in the system, why were those beds empty and why are people not accessing the beds that are empty?

Living conditions

He said an RTÉ report indicating that the DRHE received more than 300 complaints in the first ten months of last year highlights the concerning condition of many homeless facilities.

He said there are an “awful lot more complaints” that go unreported.

“People are afraid to go into beds at night time and we think this may be a factor in regard to why this individual was not accessing homeless services last night,” he said.

Standards

In a statement this evening, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) said it was aware of the sad passing of an individual this morning and expressed its condolences to the man’s family and friends.

The executive said the man had not been in contact with homeless services or with the Housing First team since 2011 adding “it is understood that he may have been living outside Dublin since that time.”

“The DRHE would like to clarify that all accommodation funded through the DRHE for homeless persons is provided to the highest standards and in accordance with our National Quality Standards Framework,” the executive said in its statement.

“The DRHE also has structures in place which ensure that anyone who wishes to engage with our services can do so.”

Safety

One third of the complaints received by the DRHE came from residents living in emergency accommodation while the majority were made by the organisations offering it, including hotels and B&Bs.

Concerns about drugs, mental health and poor living conditions in emergency accommodation were among the issues raised.

There were also worries over child protection.

The DRHE has said that standards have improved over the past year, adding that the introduction of more Family Hubs have allowed it to be more selective over where it sends its clients.

Homeless services

The body of the man was found at Ryders Row in Dublin 1 at around 9am.

The rough sleeper, who was found in a sleeping bag, was known to frequent the area. 

Mr Flynn said that while a lot has been done in terms of homeless services in recent months, “there is an awful lot more to do in order to keep people off the streets and keep people safe.”

“We need the immediate implementation of another 100 emergency beds to the system,” he said.

“We are looking at closures of facilities over the next number of months.

“There is a threat to facilities of closure which will send homeless services in to turmoil because one of those facilities is accommodating up to 100 individuals.”

There was a total of 8,587 homeless people in Ireland in December - 3079 of those were children.