A Dublin homeless charity has warned that we could see more homeless deaths in Dublin if the government does not speed up the release of 200 additional emergency winter beds.
Volunteers from Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) counted 199 people sleeping rough in the capital last night.
The charity said there were 179 men and 20 women on the streets, as we continue to see record numbers of people presenting as homeless.
The number of rough sleepers has risen steadily in the capital since 2015 according to the Dublin Region Homeless Executive.
At the last DRHE count – taken on April 4th 2017 – there were 161 people on the streets.
Meanwhile, the number of homeless people nationally hit a new record high at the end of September – with 8,374 people in emergency accommodation.
Last year, the additional winter beds did not come online until December 1st – after homeless people had been forced to brave a number of sub-zero nights.
ICHH volunteers in Dublin last night, 01-11-2017. Image: ICHH
In a statement this afternoon, ICHH called for the winter beds to be brought into service much earlier this year – adding that the government must establish an emergency task force on homelessness to prevent further deaths on the streets.
“These beds need to be available now,” reads the statement. “It is no good releasing these beds after something terrible has happened to someone sleeping rough around the country.”
“We need to be proactive to prevent further deaths; it is no good to anyone releasing the beds reacting to another death on the streets.
“There is no urgency from the government and DRHE to address this crisis and there should be.”
Two homeless people died in the space of 24 hours on the streets of Dublin and Drogheda last month.
It brought to seven the number of homeless people who have died in Ireland since September.
ICHH chief executive Anthony Flynn has called for immediate crisis intervention to prevent further deaths.
“Lack of implementation of Cold Winter Initiative beds has led these unfortunate people to sleeping rough,” he said.
“Immediately, a task force must be convened to tackle this crisis or again we will see deaths on the streets this winter.
“We are asking for the immediate implementation of 150 medium term beds and an upscale of the housing first model as the ship is sinking when it comes to homelessness."
The national homeless figure from the Department of Housing includes 5,250 adults and 3,124 children.
In Dublin alone, 5,953 people were in emergency accommodation at the end of September.