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The number of people sleeping rough in Dublin has increased by 40 per cent since the spring and by over 50 per cent since last winter, the latest figures show.
Data published on Wednesday by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) show 142 people were found sleeping rough in the capital on the night of November 22nd, during the official “winter rough sleeper count” .
The count, which is conducted by the DRHE in conjunction with the Peter McVerry Trust also found 77 people sleeping on roll-out mats in the Merchants Quay night cafe, bringing the total number of adults unable to access an emergency bed to 219.
At the same time as publishing these figures, the DRHE announced details of 230 new emergency beds for adults in Dublin, to open by Friday December 9th.
These will be in three locations in Dublin 8 and 7 and will bring the current bed capacity for homeless adults and children in Dublin to 5,082.
The figure of 142 rough-sleepers compares with 102 found during the spring count on April 24th and with 91 found in the winter 2015 count, conducted on November 30th, 2015.
Of those found sleeping rough in this most recent count, 110 were men, 20 were women and in 12 case the gender was not known.
Some 63 were Irish, 21 were not Irish and in 58 cases the nationality could not be determined.
The largest age group was 31-40 year-olds, of which there were 30. There were 21 aged 18-30, 21 aged 41-50, two were between 51 and 60 and four were 61 or older.
Some 50 teams of counters covered the areas across Dublin city and county for the count, in areas where rough sleeping is known to occur. The teams also met the park ranger service in the Phoenix Park and St Stephen’s Green to ensure people sleeping there were counted.
Mike Allen, director of advocacy with Focus Ireland said it was “totally unacceptable” that over 200 people could not access an emergency bed.
“It is vital we always remember that behind every one of these numbers and percentages, we are talking about is a man or woman who is sleeping rough on the street or on the floor in a night café.
“While much good work is being done to prevent people from becoming homeless, the constantly rocketing rents and a growing number of buy-to-let homes being either repossessed or sold is causing a constant rise in the numbers being forced into homelessness.”
Sam McGuinness, chief executive of Dublin Simon Community, stressed the latest figures represented a 56 per increase since winter 2015.
“Within a small central area of the inner city, the Dublin Simon Community conduct our own rough sleeper counts twice a week. Over the past number of months, we have been counting record levels of people bedding down in this narrow catchment area alone.
“On 20th September we recorded our highest figure this year at 168. This was followed by 164 on 4th October and 162 on 18th November. Again, this does not take into account the approx 70-plus people who are without a bed in the Night Café.”