A homeless support group in Dublin has said the number of people sleeping rough in the city is down significantly since additional emergency beds were introduced.
Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) assisted 46 people last night, down from a high of 200 people on one night last year.
An extra 200 emergency beds were introduced by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive before Christmas.
The charity’s CEO Anthony Flynn said he is hoping the drop is a sign of things to come:
“The is the first time in five years that we have seen such a decrease in the number of people that are actually on the street,” he said. “It is a very welcome situation that we are in.”
“What we are hoping for and we are asking for now is that those beds are left in place.
“That after the Cold Winter Initiative ends, that those beds are continuous and the implementations are there in order to keep these people off the streets.”
Inner City Helping Homeless outreach volunteers are reporting a reduction in the number of people sleeping rough... https://t.co/FndO61W99c
— Anthony Flynn (@AnthonyICHH) January 9, 2018
Before Christmas, the charity repeatedly urged the Government to bring forward the Cold Winter Initiative with an average of between 150 and 200 people sleeping rough over the first three weeks of December.
It said this fell to an average of around 75 over Christmas and the New Year after the beds were introduced.
Last night, volunteers assisted 46 people – 42 men and 4 women.
Mr Flynn said the reduction is welcome, but warned that more needs to be done to ensure as many people as possible are kept off the streets over the coming months.
“What we are seeing now is an average of 70 to 80 people that are sleeping rough,” he said.
“That is down from 170 to 180 people that had been sleeping rough or had not been able to access beds.
“We still have a lot of work to do in order to take the rest of these people off the streets.
“What we have to do is ensure that the beds that are in place are continuous and those beds are available for these people to come in if they do want to come in.”
He said it is essential that adequate facilities remain available to rebuild trust in the hostel system and prevent homeless people choosing to sleep rough instead of accessing emergency accommodation.
He said long terms solutions including wrap-around supports and intensive case management systems are required to move people out of homelessness on a more permanent basis.