“Press releases with headlines screaming homeless numbers are down will not make the problem go away” : ALICE LEAHY Director, TRUST

TRUST, the social and health service for people who are homeless, today rejected a survey carried almost fifteen months ago as “absurdly out of date and out of touch with the realities on the ground and suggestions that the numbers have declined do not conform to a situation where we continue to meet new people who are homeless almost everyday in need of help.”

ALICE LEAHY, Director and Co-Founder of TRUST, said “what is worrying about this out of date survey is that it seems designed to generate a PR smokescreen about what is really going on. In particular, the terms of reference which excluded people who are in prisons, general and psychiatric hospitals, and similar institutions, and who would otherwise be homeless, is only one example of the many shortcomings in this report apart from the fact it is fifteen months out of date. Indeed at a time when more and more new people turn up at our door from the EU accession states it is clear that a much more open and comprehensive approach is required if we are to get the real figures for those homeless in Dublin today.”

ALIICE LEAHY went on to highlight why it is extremely difficult to carry out a comprehensive survey of people who are homeless but underlined that is no excuse for suggesting everything is improving when the evidence we find on the ground suggests the opposite.

“Homelessness is not the same as ‘houselessness’. Most of the people we meet everyday find themselves living on the street for reasons other than a simple lack of accommodation. Providing them with a place to stay is obviously vital but addressing the reasons they find themselves excluded in the first place is equally important. Surveying vulnerable people and suggesting for example that figures from A&E were used raises a profound question for me because the people I know who are homeless do not admit they have no place to live when they go there,” ALICE LEAHY said.

Meanwhile, at a time when the Irish economy continues to expand and accommodation and housing become more difficult to access clearly suggests that a survey almost fifteen months old against that background cannot hope to capture the situation on the ground as we know it today, ALICE LEAHY said.

“We are also aware of many vulnerable people who not only find emergency accommodation hard to access but increasingly find themselves excluded even from hostel accommodation,” ALICE LEAHY said.

“Press releases with headlines screaming homeless numbers are down will not make the problem go away. More disturbing though is the failure to recognise the numbers who find themselves falling in and out of actually being technically homeless on the street,” ALICE LEAHY said. “Those who find shelter on someone’s couch one night and may evade capture in the official homeless statistics but that does not mean they are not homeless or the scale of the on-going suffering is any less as this survey seems to imply.”