The number of homeless deaths in Dublin rose by eight in August alone, bringing the 2020 figure to 39, already exceeding the total number of homeless people who died in the city last year.
The figures, obtained by Áontú leader Peadar Tóibín from the Dublin Regional Homelessness Executive (DRHE), show that 10 people died in the capital’s services in July, with an additional eight last month, a rise Mr Tóibín called “worrying”.
Among those who died are a number of younger people, which Dublin City councillor and homeless advocate Anthony Flynn said was “an entirely new demographic”, which has increased in prevalence in the system in recent years.
Mr Tóibín said that details of the deaths of younger people are particularly harrowing.
“The documents sent to me by the DRHE give details on these deaths, they make for difficult reading with the phrase “young man” and “young woman” appearing with a heart-breaking frequency,” he said.
“One of the deaths in July was of a man aged in his 20s who was ‘found dead while sleeping rough’. Another was a girl of 19 years, who died in an emergency accommodation facility, and another ‘young woman in her 20s… appears to have taken her own life while residing in an emergency accommodation facility’. The list goes on with many other tragic stories.”
Mr Tóibín paid tribute to the DRHE and the NGOs that work to combat homelessness in Ireland, but said that the issue must be tackled by Government.
“It’s well time we got our priorities straight in this country. The situation with regards to the spike in homeless deaths must be declared an emergency, we can no longer leave this battle in the hands of activists, volunteers, and charities, it’s time the government stepped up to the plate.”
Mr Flynn said that the rise in deaths represented a “continued systemic failure”. He added that the current system does not address the entirety of problems faced by homeless people.
“We’re treating people like cattle when they come in. A bed and a sleeping bag is the minimum you’d expect, but we have to ensure a multidisciplinary approach to how people are supported.
“People are coming out of services with substance issues when they didn’t go in with them.
“The outsourcing of homeless services to the emergency accommodation industry isn’t working. We haven’t got the level of service provision that we do in other places.
“The adequate level of services just isn’t there.”
Concern has been expressed over a “significant spike” in deaths among the homeless in Dublin
The Dublin Regional Homeless Executive has recorded 39 to date in 2020.
That figure is higher than the number of deaths in the whole of 2019 (34) and 2018 (35).
Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín has urged the Government to act.
“The figure to date in 2020 stands at 39, higher than previous years, this is especially shocking given that the year isn’t near over yet,” he said.
“Another deeply worrying trend is the significant spike in deaths recorded in July and August.
“Between January and June of this year there were an average of three or four homeless deaths per month, but in July 10 people died, and a further eight people in August.”
Mr Tóibín said there are heartbreaking stories of many young people behind the numbers.
He said the Government “must step up to the plate”.
“I can see no concrete action from the Government in response to these skyrocketing statistics,” he said.
“There is something deeply tragic in the fact that the week when the death rate appears to have peaked was the same week that the Government voted to give Junior Ministers a pay rise.
“It’s well time we got our priorities straight in this country.”