Newstalk
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12.01 22 Nov 2017


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Updated: 17.25

The Government has unveiled details of plans to provide 200 emergency beds for homeless individuals and rough sleepers as part of its Cold Weather Initiative.

It comes as the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) has reported a total of 184 people were sleeping rough across the Dublin region on the night of November 7th.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy says his department is currently in the process of delivering the 200 additional permanent emergency beds "so that there will be a bed and all the necessary supports available for anyone who needs them."

The minister says all of the beds will be brought into use over the coming weeks, and will be in place by December 18th.

Mr Murphy adds: "We are entering a cold weather period, when people will be particularly vulnerable.

"It is imperative that we have in place a coordinated and robust response for anyone who might be sleeping rough over this period. Hence the need for a Cold Weather Strategy.

The DRHE have published their Cold Weather Strategy - it will see the availability of additional temporary beds and accommodation, if required, in addition to the 200 new beds being announced.

"There will be more than enough spare capacity in the system, as an additional precaution", Minister Murphy says.

The Cold Weather Strategy can also be activated during more extreme weather conditions.

Arrangements are in place with partners such as the Peter McVerry Trust and Focus Ireland to ensure that additional temporary shelter can be brought into use.

Cold weather plans and initiatives are also being advanced across the country.

Minister Murphy says local authorities in major urban centres have confirmed to him that they have "robust contingency arrangements" to meet any additional homeless requirements, as they arise during the winter.

In Cork an additional 25 temporary beds are in place, in Galway 34 temporary beds in place and in Limerick an additional 10 temporary beds in place.

Emergency accommodation

Meanwhile the Simon Communities have said that it is "deeply disturbing" that the numbers of people in emergency accommodation is continuing to increase.

A record 8,492 people are in emergency accommodation, according to figures released for October by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.

This includes 1,463 families - an increase of 24% since October 2016 - and 3,194 children.

This is an increase of 29% when compared with October last year, when the figure was 2,470 children.

Spokesperson for the Simon Communities, Niamh Randall, said that we must not become immune to homelessness crisis.

"As people move out of emergency accommodation, more people come in to take their place.

"This has to be traced back to the failure of the private sector to provide for housing needs, in the absence of sufficient social and affordable housing.

"Prevention is critical - we need to keep people in the homes they have to stem the tide of men, women and children into homelessness.

"Many people in emergency accommodation are coming from the private rental sector where they have lost their home because they cannot afford to pay rent.

"Responses to the crisis have centred on an emergency led response with limited focus on people's wider and ongoing support needs. It is a flawed strategy that does not fully address homelessness and can lead to institutionalisation and dependency in the long run."


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