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Number of homeless in Dublin set to ‘double’ amid refugee accommodation crisis

Ireland’s severe shortage of emergency accommodation for incoming refugees could see the number of people sleeping rough in Dublin likely to double, it has been warned. 

Ireland has already housed about 73,000 migrants – 54,000 of whom fled Ukraine, while another 19,000 are asylum seekers from other countries. The surge in immigration has seen the number of migrants arriving in Ireland multiply since 2021.

While the government has pledged to house all migrants arriving here, it is now struggling to find suitable accommodation with asylum seeking centres and emergency centres now past capacity.

Workers from multiple charities in the capital are preparing for an influx of visitors as the refugee accommodation crisis continues unabated.

Charities including the Capuchin Day Centre, founded in the capital 50 years ago, are among those anticipating a surge in people needing help following the suspension of new International Protection arrivals at the Citywest Transit Hub after it reached full capacity.

While the restriction does not apply to families with children, the Department of Integration has admitted that accommodation for single refugees has now run out.

The Irish Independent was among those today to report that several refugees have slept rough for the past two nights after arriving in Dublin.

In a development which caused upset among many, newly arrived asylum seekers, speaking to RTÉ News on Wednesday, said that they had nowhere to stay and were preparing to sleep rough last night on the streets of Dublin. Minister Roderic O’Gorman has said the situation could last ‘weeks’ with no immediate resolution in sight. 

There are an average of 310 international protection applicants arriving into Ireland each week at present. With roughy 100 people sleeping rough in the capital each night normally, and an average of 100 single refugees arriving into Ireland each week, it is predicted that hundreds of men and women arriving on our shores could be forced to sleep rough in the coming weeks. 

Focus Ireland, a Dublin-based charity which provides services to the vulnerable and the homeless, has issued a warning that the refugee situation could transform what rough sleeping looks like in the capital.

In a statement earlier this month, the charity said rising homelessness was a “stark warning” for the Government as figures published by the Department of Housing showed that the number of people officially homeless in Ireland reached another record.

11,542 people were homeless as of 6 January, which represented a rise in homelessness for the 11th consecutive month despite the government’s introduction of a Winter Eviction Ban from the start of November.

The number of people who are homeless rose by 145 people since October and by 27% compared with a year ago (8,917, November 2021). 

Homelessness charity and Approved Housing Body Novas has said it will do its best to provide accommodation for as many homeless individuals as it can – but it warned that there is “likely to be a significant transformation of rough sleeping” in Dublin.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Una Byrnes of Novas said the charity is concerned – adding that their accommodation, like that of government centres, is now “absolutely stretched”. 

“We’re deeply concerned about where these people are going to sleep tonight and tomorrow night – particularly single adults who have been told they won’t be accommodated and that their details have been taken and told they will be contacted if accommodation becomes available,” she told the programme. 

Ms Byrnes said there “are about 100 single people a week” entering the State, and said these are now the people who are facing homelessness when they arrive.

“If those 100 people are on the street, if that was to transpire, that would double the amount of rough sleeping in Dublin in one week,” she said.

The number of people who have been homeless for longer than six months is increasing in Dublin. Figures from early January show that there were 178 families and 574 single people who have been in homeless accommodation for over two years. 

Addressing this last month, FOCUS Ireland CEO Pat Dennigan described the situation as “unacceptable”.

“It’s important to remember that when we discuss these figures we are talking about human beings struggling every day and the trauma of long-term homelessness can leave a lasting trauma long after they finally find a home,” he said.

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