New figures reveal 115 homeless people died in Dublin in 2021

Since 2018, 287 homeless people have died in Dublin.
New figures reveal 115 homeless people died in Dublin in 2021

The number of deaths among the homeless community in the capital is rising, with new figures showing that 115 homeless people died in Dublin last year.

As reported in the Irish Examiner, new data released under Freedom of Information shows there were 76 deaths in 2020, while, in 2018 and 2019, the number was below 50.

Of those who died last year, 34 were in long-term accommodation. Meanwhile, 23 died in private and short-term accommodation, 13 in shielding facilities, five in housing-first accommodation, five in outreach services, eight in visiting supports, and four who were not service users.

Since 2018, 287 homeless people have died in Dublin. It comes as latest figures show 6,707 people were homeless in Dublin by the end of February.

According to the most recent Dublin Regional Homeless Executive, Covid-19 has had a limited impact on deaths of homeless people.

"The number of Covid-related deaths has not changed at three residents from Long-Term Supported Housing. As of 16th February, there were 662 confirmed (cumulative) cases within Dublin Homeless Services," the report says.

In 2021, Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien commissioned a report by Austin O'Carroll following the spike in homeless deaths.

Dr O'Carroll recommended that mortality rates could be cut by ending long-term homelessness as the mortality rate rises significantly once a person has been in emergency accommodation for more than 18 months.

He also advised that an outreach mental health team should be established and that work should be done to cut overdose-related fatalities.

Dr O'Carroll's reported suggests that lower life expectancy and higher mortality rates associated with social disadvantage and addiction are the primary reasons for the excess rate of mortality among people living in homelessness compared with the general population.

'Cause of great concern'

Commenting on the rising number of homeless deaths, a spokesperson for the Department of Housing said addressing homelessness is a "key priority" for the Government.

"The death of any person experiencing homelessness is a cause of great concern and this matter is being taken very seriously. It is important to establish the facts concerning the circumstances involved, and that a response is based on the best knowledge and evidence available," they said.

At present, a pilot study on data collection of homeless deaths is being undertaken nationally by the Health Research Board on behalf of the Department of Health.

According to the Department of Housing, 17,000 files from all coroner districts are being reviewed.

"The department will engage with the Department of Health on completion of this study," they said.

"It is vital that we continue to deliver the appropriate measures to support all individuals experiencing homelessness. The department is working closely with the Department of Health, the HSE, and local authorities in doing this."

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