Wednesday, 29 July 2020
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
Mary Fitzpatrick (Fianna Fail)
This morning I draw the Seanad's attention to the tragic loss of life of five homeless people in Dublin city this week. They were five people under 40 years, most of them women. That tragic loss of life in one week in this city is unprecedented. I would like the House to join me in offering sympathy to the families and friends of those five people. I want us to offer our support to everyone who works in homeless services both in a voluntary and professional capacity. Their job is incredibly challenging and they do it with great generosity and strength. They deserve the full support of the House, which I am sure the House will give.
However, we need to go further than that. The Dublin Region Homeless Executive is charged with providing a response to homelessness for the four local authorities in the Dublin area. In its most recent report, the executive provides up-to-date figures. These were only up to the end of May, so there is a delay in the reporting of numbers. Although the numbers have decreased over months and years, they are still unacceptably high. The last reported numbers indicate that more than 1,300 families are in some form of homeless accommodation. There are more than 2,000 children in some form of homeless accommodation, be it hotels, temporary hostels or family hubs. Essentially, all of those people's lives are on hold. While the Dublin Region Homeless Executive is working day and night to support them, the fact that five people died in the past week alone must be examined, as well as the type of supports that are being provided.
I spoke about families but there is enormous pressure on single people in terms of inadequacy of supply of accommodation. The Dublin Region Homeless Executive had to decommission 500 single beds because of Covid-19 in order to ensure adequate social distancing. I ask that the Minister come to the House for a debate on the provision of homeless services in Dublin and to examine what led to those five tragic deaths, what more can be done to support homeless people in Dublin and to those who are providing services to them, and, critically, what more the State can do to ensure that all of those people exit homelessness into permanent homes.