Cork must learn from Dublin homeless crisis

Cork must learn from Dublin homeless crisis

Ger Spillane, regional manager, Focus Ireland; Focus Ireland CEO, Pat Dennigan; Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Mick Finn; economist, David McWilliams; Professor Michelle Noris, UCD; and Prof Rory O’Donnell, NESC at the Focus Ireland Conference in Cork. Picture: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

CORK must learn from the mistakes of Dublin to avoid the homelessness crisis reaching the disastrous levels of the capital.

That was the warning given to city officials and politicians by the national homelessness charity, Focus Ireland.

While homelessness remains a crisis in Cork, director of advocacy with Focus Ireland, Mike Allen, said that Cork can still learn from the mistakes of Dublin to avoid the “mess” that has evolved in the capital.

Mr Allen said: “Cork and other cities are beginning to experience the same problems Dublin saw two years ago.”

In particular, Mr Allen referred to rising levels of single person homelessness and rising family homelessness.

“Dublin took a long time to respond to that, but a number of innovative measures were brought in to deal with it, like homeless Housing Assistance Payments (HAP), which is a higher level of HAP paid to families being evicted or at risk of homelessness.

“There is a range of things like that and we shouldn’t wait until things reach a level of epidemic proportions before we implement them here,” he said.

Mr Allen said the homeless support agencies know what works and officials should put that expertise to use.

“We know these measures have some impact in Dublin, they don’t solve the problem, but they helped contain it.

“They haven’t been applied yet in Cork and they need the minister to apply them here.

“We need to learn from the lessons from Dublin and avoid getting into the appalling scale of homelessness that is going on there.”

As well as this, Mr Allen said Cork needs to carry out data collection to find the source of the housing problem.

“We need to ask what can Cork do to stop ending up in the same mess Dublin is in and one of the things is to publish and analyse the figures so we can see to what extent people are affected,” he added.

“As the problem is growing we need to get on top of it so we can figure out what is causing it.”

Mr Allen said the problem may not be what we think it is.

“We are assuming at the moment it is the same kind of problems that is causing homelessness in Dublin because it looks very similar, but we don’t know.”

Mr Allen said we have got to understand the nature of the problem before we can provide the solution.

“There needs to be data collection done to find out what the problem is.”

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