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Public has been asked to make properties available for homeless, as 79 people died in Dublin’s streets last year

DUBLIN: Last year, 79 homeless people died on the streets of Dublin alone. There is still no significant change to the situation. A lot of people sleep on the streets because they’re homeless. More facilities should be available to save the lives of such people.

Organizations such as the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) have stepped in to help. But this is not something they can handle alone. The DRHE Local Authority requested the public to make their properties available for homeless families and individuals.

Brendan Kenny, Deputy Chief Executive of DRHE, said there is a crisis in seeking private emergency accommodation. “Suddenly COVID really, really worsened that crisis. We actually emptied some of the hostels in the city, totally. We had to thin out most of the hostels for social distancing purposes and had to very quickly acquire hostels in the city, otherwise more people would be dying on the streets and more people will be sleeping on the streets, Mr. Kenny warned.  

“We’ve managed to only have three deaths from COVID. Our only option was to go out and source accommodation in the private sector,” he added.

In 2020, 79 homeless people died in Dublin, said Anthony Flynn, an independent councillor and chief executive officer of Inner City Helping Homeless. The death toll from homelessness was 49 in 2019, 47 in 2018 and 62 in 2017. “These figures are related to Dublin only. It’s now time the Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien requested a full countrywide report,” said Cllr Flynn.

Former Lord Mayor Christy Burke has said that increasing rents in the private sector will make it harder to get homes. “However, there doesn’t seem to be the political will to solve this awful issue. These are people’s lives not just statistics,” he said.

A DRHE spokesman said he would like to talk to landlords and property owners about buildings that could be used as family hubs or hostels for single persons.

“This can be difficult in light of the strong opposition that almost inevitably arises from local residents and businesses to the implementation of such facilities. We are regularly in contact with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage regarding funding for acquiring new properties,” the spokesperson said.

At the end of December 2020, there were 755 families here. This is the lowest monthly figure since December 2015. However, the spokesman said the city council should take immediate action to provide a place to sleep for those living on the streets.

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