Simon reports 200% rise in those sleeping rough in Dublin

Advice service will help to prevent tenancy terminations

Rough sleeping in Dublin city centre has risen by 200 per cent since January, and is up three fold on this time last year, according to the

Dublin Simon Community

.

Discrimination against social welfare tenants, which has resulted in spiralling numbers living in emergency accommodation in hotels, was also leading to more people sleeping rough, said Simon chief executive Sam McGuinness.

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“People are now shut out of the rental market, and have no option but to look for shelter in emergency facilities or resort to sleeping in doorways and squats.”

The number of rough sleepers in the city reached a daily high of 93 this week, up from a low of 25 in January. An average of 30 to 35 people were sleeping rough last May.

Advice services
Mr McGuinness was speaking on the introduction of new tenants' advice services jointly run by Simon and the Citizens Information Service.

Through a weekly Thursday morning clinic at the Carmelite centre on Aungier Street, the services will provide information to help people keep their tenancies, such as rights as a tenant, advice on managing bills, responsibilities as a tenant and entitlements to housing. The service can also liaise with a landlord if appropriate.

Early intervention can pre-empt tenancy breakdown, but many people were in a “hopeless situation” where they were powerless to hold on to their home, Mr McGuinness said.

“Landlords have become skilled at ensuring they operate within the law when they evict people, so in some cases there is little we can do. The only solution to that is to increase the housing supply.”


Social housing
He welcomed the announcement by Minister for Housing Jan O'Sullivan of an extra €50 million for social housing but said it was not enough.

Chief executive of the Citizens Information Board Tony McQuinn said the service dealt with 58,000 queries in relation to housing last year.

“The nature, extent and level of difficulty of these queries has increased enormously.”

The lack of social housing and the length of the waiting lists made keeping people in their existing homes essential.

“It will be some time before the housing supply needs are met, and unfortunately in most cases of people coming to us we cannot provide houses. Many people will be experiencing these difficulties for a long time to come, so advice and help to maintain their tenancies is essential.”

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times