Sleeping rough in the Liberties

Julie Grosio to talks to a homeless woman about the daily struggles she faces living in the Liberties area.

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All statistics courtesy of the "Counted In" Survey, 2008

An old sleeping bag as a chair, a blanket to withstand the cold temperature, an empty cup of coffee with a few coins in it, begging for spare change in the Liberties. Maybe you have already seen her there, shaking her cup and asking for money. Let’s call her Katie.

Katie, 24, is homeless. The first legal definition of homelessness in Ireland was provided by the Housing Act of 1988. According to  section two of the Act, a person is regarded as being homeless if he or she is unable to provide accommodation from his or her own resources.

“I’ve lived in the street for six months now. I didn’t want to stay with my mother and I didn’t have enough money for a flat,” Katie says thoughtfully, her expression vague. I stay outside during the day but when the night comes I go to emergency shelters or I squat because it’s too dangerous to stay on the streets when it’s dark, especially for a girl”, said Katie

All Statistics courtesy of the "Counted In" survey, 2008

The Dublin Simon Community web site describes homelessness as:

…more than being without a roof over your head…it’s about a lack of security, lack of belonging, lack of privacy and lack of safety. The experience of homelessness is arguably one of the grossest violations of human rights in developed economies like Ireland.

As to figures for those sleeping rough in Dublin, they say:

On any given night, there are up to 90 people sleeping rough in the Dublin area..The ‘invisible’ homeless [those living in shelters, hostels, refuges or with family and relatives] make up about twenty times the number of people sleeping rough.

Lorna Cronnelly, Campaigns and Media Manager for the Dublin Simon Community says, “There are no exact figures about homelessness in the Liberties.”

Sorcha Donohoe of the Homeless Agency says that “Over three quarters of adults surveyed gave enough information on their last permanent address so that it could be categorised. 186 people gave their last address as Dublin.”

According to a 2008 report by the Homeless Agency Partnership, 2,366 adults used homeless services, a four per cent increase from 2005.Five per cent of those homeless adults reported that they were sleeping rough in 2008.

The “Counted In”  survey, conducted in 2008, provided statistics regarding the homeless community in Dublin;

Most adults in homeless services, (84%) were Irish nationals, however nearly 1 in 6 (16%) were of foreign nationality. The majority of people of foreign nationality were EU citizens (10%), the majority being from the UK, Poland and Romania. A large minority were also non EU citizens.

For more information and relevant statistics regarding the homeless community in Dublin, see the 2008 Homeless Agency Partnership report (pdf download).

More information regarding the Simon Community can be found here, and the Citizen’s Information Bureau also has information and advice and homelessness, which  you can access here.

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