‘The True Facts Of The Situation Are Not Being Established’

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The trolley bay of the Longwalk Shopping Centre Dundalk where the body of Paul Gorman, who was homeless, was found last Friday

Yesterday.

In the Dáil.

Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Ruth Coppinger and Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin raised the matter of homelessness with Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

During their exchanges, Ms Coppinger said Fr Peter McVerry believes the true homeless figure in Dublin may be double the official figure as several locations across the city, where homeless people sleep, are not taken into consideration when official figures are created.

In addition, Mr Ó Caoláin recalled the recent death of 49-year-old father-of-three Paul Gorman in Dundalk.

Mr Gorman’s body was found in the trolley bay of the Longwalk Shopping Centre Dundalk by a member of staff at Tescos at around noon last Friday.

He had been sleeping rough on Thursday night, when temperatures were below zero.

During his response, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said three more hostels – with 210 beds – will open in Dublin on December 9.

From yesterday’s exchanges in the Dáil.

Ruth Coppinger: Last week in the Dáil the Taoiseach referred to the tsunami of homeless as having had a “slight increase”. I challenge the Taoiseach on that because the increase is not slight. The latest figures on homelessness in Dublin were published last week. I will confine my comments to Dublin for the moment. I am aware that there is a homelessness problem in other parts of the country but the bulk of homelessness in the country is in Dublin, which is why I am focusing on it.”

“There were 2,110 children in 1,026 families in emergency accommodation in the last week of October. A total of 67 families with 133 children became newly homeless last month. I will repeat that for the Taoiseach – 67 families became homeless last month. The Taoiseach told the Dáil earlier today that his Government has the most comprehensive housing programme in the history of the State. Indeed, the former Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Alan Kelly, used to say the same thing. The Government’s housing programme is clearly not working and I would like the Taoiseach to admit that. I would like him to admit that we have an emergency and to say that there will be a change of course.”

“There has been an increase of 45 in the number of homeless children in Dublin since September 2016. There has been an increase of 639 in the number of homeless children since October 2015. These statistics were provided in response to parliamentary questions I submitted a week ago. There has been an increase of 349 in the number of homeless families since October 2015. In total, there are now 5,146 homeless families in emergency accommodation in Dublin. That does not include the 140 people who were counted sleeping rough on the streets last week – the Taoiseach referred earlier to a figure of 115. Nor does it include the 70 people sleeping on the floor in the Merchant’s Quay cafe or those sleeping in tents in the Phoenix Park. I do not know if the Taoiseach has seen them.

The total does not include people sleeping in derelict buildings or on park benches. Indeed, according to Fr. Peter McVerry, the true figure for rough sleeping would be twice as high if all of those people were included. Furthermore, the figure does not include the 16 women per day who are turned away from refuges and who face the choice of homelessness or returning to a violent abuser. The total does not include homeless non-nationals who are dealt with by the Department of Social Protection’s new communities unit. The true homelessness figure is much higher than the official one.

“What is causing this? The Taoiseach chairs the Cabinet committee at which several Ministers attend. I do not have time to go into the record of each Department but in terms of Social Protection, cutting the dole for young people will not help. The lack of refuge spaces, for which the Minister for Justice and Equality is responsible, will not help. The response of the Minister for Finance was to focus time and attention on the first-time buyer’s tax rebate of €20,000 which will go straight into the pockets of developers and push up the price of housing.”

“…I am sorry but it is rare to get a chance to ask the Taoiseach questions on such an important issue. Mr David McWilliams who is not a card carrying member of any left wing or socialist party has said that the deposit rules were relaxed by the Central Bank in order for prices to rise which will coax builders who are sitting around waiting for such price rises into beginning to dig foundations. This is State-sanctioned house price inflation.”

“One of the main reasons for people becoming homeless is the failure of the Fine Gael Party, in particular, to do anything to tackle landlords and their control over tenants. Mr David Erlich of the Ires Real Estate Investment Trust, REIT, told The Irish Times last week: “It’s a great market, we’ve never seen rental increases like this in any jurisdiction that we’re aware of”. I hope the Government’s private rental policy, to be announced next week, will introduce rent controls.

Later

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin:  “I would like the Taoiseach to note that the cold, lifeless body of 49-year-old Paul Gorman was found last Friday morning in the trolley bay at the Longwalk Shopping Centre in Dundalk. He was homeless and died on a particularly cold night when temperatures fell below zero. I want to take the opportunity today to extend my condolences to his family. His death clearly highlights the dangers for rough sleepers.”

The number of rough sleepers is up over 50% on last year, despite what the Taoiseach and the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government have pledged would be done in regard to emergency bed provision. According to the latest figures from the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive, DRHE, about 140 individuals were found to be sleeping on the streets and in doorways. That figure has been challenged, as Deputy Coppinger pointed out, by the Peter McVerry Trust which argues that the actual figure is more likely to be twice that number. On the “Today with Sean O’Rourke” programme on RTE radio this morning a researcher spoke of discovering a cadre of homeless people in Cork who have set up a little camp. They are living in fear and in totally outrageous circumstances. We need to wake up to the real problems here because the true facts of the situation are not being established.”

“With no time left I can only ask the Taoiseach what the Cabinet committee on housing is doing to address this worsening problem and whether it will address the discrepancies in the recording of homeless figures that I have just highlighted.”

Homeless man died after sleeping rough on sub zero night (Dundalk Democrat)

Related: ‘Stackable’ modular apartments to be built for homeless families (Olivia Kelly, Irish Times)

Pic: Dundalk Democrat

Transcript: Oireachtas.ie

34 thoughts on “‘The True Facts Of The Situation Are Not Being Established’

  1. Donal

    This government does not care about homelessness. It says it does but it enacts zero policies to increase house building, no policies to protect tenants. judge them by what they do not what they say. They have done nothing

      1. Donal

        I’m sorry, I didn’t realise it was my responsibility to provide a list of policies, sure without my list of course the government can do nothing, unfortunately all the housing and homelessness charities and advocacy groups have shut down and it is up to me to take their place

          1. Donal

            Apologies, I shouldn’t have been so suspect of your motives.
            Policies that make housing be built now, as oppose to whenever the developers feel like using the zoned land they have, use it or lose it legislation, build now or we’ll compulsorily purchase it and build on it ourselves, that sort of thing would be most effective in my opinion

      2. dav

        Hi hammertime – compulsory purchase of vulture fund housing stock to be used for affordable housing.
        reinstatement of local authority housing departments so local authorities would build heir houses themselves.
        Compulsory purchase of landbanks, withheld by developers/vulture funds to artificially inflate the housing bubble.

  2. DubLoony

    I am continually baffled by the number of vacant derelict sites in this city. We have the skills and the money now to get this sorted but developers have effectively been sitting on their hands to get all the tax breaks they want before proceeding.

    Over 3.5 billion was made available by Alan Kelly for social housing, it was the largest ever allocated in this state. DCC is just not capable of delivering.

    1. edalicious

      Time for less carrot and more stick; they should start taxing/fining people for derelict sites in and around the city. That would hopefully get building started fairly quick!

      1. Donal

        Yup, definitely, but this government will not use sticks when the people on the receiving end are moneyed. it is not the priority that they claim it is.

      2. DubLoony

        Use ’em or lose ’em. Sites I know of are derelict for decades so this isn’t a boom/bust thing, this is land hoarding blight.

  3. Nikkeboentje

    Does anyone have stats on the number of people sleeping rough who have substance abuse issues? I believe it is pointless providing someone with these issues a permanent bed/home without concurrently providing assistance to combat their substance abuse. Is this happening?

    1. DubLoony

      The current thinking is a “housing first policy”. Its very difficult to have someone on the streets to go to therapy, regular methadone appointments, trying to eat properly, rest and sleep while on the street.
      House first and provide support services around them.

      As for families being in hotels – it is shocking that even at the worst of times, grandparents, siblings and friends couldn’t help out. what does it say about the breakdown in extended family when people end up in these circumstances?

      If there are addiction issues, I can understand that erratic and dangerous behavior is something that people want to be around or are equipped to deal with.

    2. scottser

      exactly as dubloony points out, there is a model of homeless service provision that tries to bypass the traditional ‘shelter’ style accommodation. those accommodations usually end up being full of residents that are impossible to move on unless there are substantial tenancy supports in place. that shift to provision of tenancy is something the NGOs would like to see happen sooner rather than later instead of staffing hostels which have only limited proven success. NGOs have always been reluctant landlords but this is changing too.

      as for not providing a drug user with a home until he cleans up first, well if that was the case the numbers of homeless would be multiples of what they are now. you’ll find that once someone is ‘housing ready’ and can manage a tenancy then what they do behind closed doors is none of yours or my business.

      1. Nikkeboentje

        I said that they should concurrently be provided with assistance to combat their substance abuse, NOT that they should be clean first.

  4. Rob_G

    Are people sleeping rough because homeless accommodation is full-up?

    If so, that’s a disgrace and the CoCos need to act, but if not, and there are beds available, I’m not sure what more that they can do to prevent deaths like this, short of forcibly rounding homeless people up and detaining them each night.

    1. DubLoony

      The winter rough sleeper plan is usually in place by now.
      People can be picked up by van and taken there but they need to be known about first.

      At a pinch, people sleep in garda stations.
      No need for anyone to be outside but some people like to live free, as they see it.

      1. Cian

        Isn’t there a ‘dry’ policy in a number of/all accommodations? i.e. no drink or drugs. So some of the homeless refuse to go there.

          1. Cian

            I can understand that some people may not want to go into a dry hostel – if they want to get drunk/high.

            Equally, I understand why someone else wouldn’t want to go into a wet hostel – especially if they are a recovering addict.

            And some people may feel safer on the street than in a hostel.

            So in conclusion, there should be sufficient accommodation (both wet/dry) to cope with the numbers, but even if this is the case, there will still be people that won’t use it.

    2. Clampers Outside!

      The “temporary” winter sleeper shelter was opened on James’/Thomas St this time last year, and was supposed to close last Jan/Feb… but it has stayed open all year, and I’m sure there’s a few thankful for it.

      My point… homelessness is so out of control, even temp shelters are open all year.

  5. Joni2015

    If you’ve burned your bridges so badly in life that you can’t get a bed from friends and family then maybe the problem is not with us.

    McVerry absolutey loves homelessness. He desperately wants it to be a bigger problem as it validates him as a person.

    1. Cian

      …and some people love trolling. They desperately want to cause more shock and outrage as it validates them as people.

    2. DubLoony

      I don’t doubt that there is a significant problem in the city nor the good intentions of many people involved in trying to alleviate it on the ground.

      But we can’t ignore the competition between multiple large charities who are duplicating effort. From this article last year:
      http://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/review-of-homeless-and-housing-services-ordered-1.2368611
      “in Dublin, eight organisations – Peter McVerry Trust, Crosscare, the De Paul Trust, Novas, the Salvation Army, Focus Ireland, the YMCA and Dublin Simon – are involved in the provision of emergency shelter, each with their own organisational management teams, chief executives or directors, policy teams, buildings managers, health and counselling teams, and training programmes.”

      Further details:
      http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/charities-for-homeless-are-not-value-for-money-report-34349696.html

      1. Clampers Outside!

        Aye… I’d like to see some sort of consolidation of services.

        But, it should be noted that there are some differences in those providers. De Paul for instance do a lot of work with addicts not wanted in other shelters; and some shelters are temporary; and some specialise in residential (full time) shelters, as DePaul does…. which is very different to what say, Cluid provides.

        Maybe, a side by side list of all the services that each do would be good… some job compiling that though, but it should be there somewhere….

        1. DubLoony

          Here’s the thing. The state is the main funder of these charities. What is the state not providing services directly?

      1. Joni2015

        He does. Guys like him need an identity. Hes always making outlandish claims and getting himself in the papers. He even named his charity after himself. He’s mother Theresa wannabe.

  6. Jake the fat man

    In the Simon in dundalk as probably in other places of you are not in the hostel by midnight you go and poo. The Gate house in dundalk closed a couple of years ago it was more tolerant.

    Ironically the gate house is only 2 mins walk from where Mr Gorman was found.

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