Wednesday, 14 November 2018
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
Homeless Persons Data
The cold weather initiative has been implemented in some local authorities because we have already had spells of cold weather.
The initiative means more outreach teams go out and we keep facilities open for longer.
The count of people sleeping rough, which is separate from the count of people in emergency accommodation, happens twice a year. The most recent count was done in March of this year and found that an average of 110 people were sleeping rough on a nightly basis, down 40% on the previous count conducted in November 2017. All of the additional beds, supports and work that we put in place last year helped to get people off the streets. People who are sleeping rough are in complex situations and it is not just a question of providing shelter and accommodation for them. They need wraparound supports and services as well and that is why the Housing First plan is so important.
I assure the Deputy that there will be enough beds in place before the end of the year. While the official numbers tell us that 110 people are sleeping rough, that count is months old and more people may be sleeping rough on our streets now. Between now and the end of the year, therefore, 248 new emergency beds will be delivered. Some 20 have been delivered and a further 200 are in the pipeline and will be delivered in the next three to four weeks. In addition, 65 new beds were put in place but we do not count them as new because they are replacing 65 beds that were lost on St. Stephen's Green. In January, another 40 beds will come on stream. Between 200 and 300 beds will come on line while the most recent rough sleeper count told us that there were 110 people on our streets. Anecdotal evidence from our outreach teams suggests that there are still people sleeping rough and that some new people have presented. We do not know if the number is less than 110, given the new emergency beds that have come into the system over the course of the year. When we do the next rough sleeper count, we will know the number involved. That count will happen in the very near future but no matter what the number, we are putting in place at least double the number of beds that will be required to make sure that no one needs to sleep rough, particularly during the cold weather period.