Your feature on the plight of those who find themselves homeless on the streets of Dublin was very timely. However, the very last paragraph of that two page spread was the most revealing in highlighting the very destructive effects of “increased bureaucracy” which explains to a great extent why we continue to fail so many of those who find themselves outsiders in Irish society.
The full implications of this bureaucracy needs to be understood. Having worked with people who are homeless for almost thirty years, and while acknowledging that some things have changed, it is also painfully true that much has remained the same; and this can be explained by a very serious management failure at the top. In short, those in overall charge appear to be out of touch with what is happening on the ground.
To underline that point it was very revealing that only one of the people involved in homeless services, the deputy chief executive of the Homeless Agency, the body responsible for overseeing policy in this area, agreed that it was possible to reach the government’s target of ending “rough sleeping” on the street, as it is described, by 2010. In other words, anyone involved in anyway in front line services knows that is impossible, given current policy and commitments, and shows a profound misunderstanding about the nature of the issue. One of the most serious issues at the moment is that there are not enough emergency beds – highlighting how far behind we are at the moment in attempting to meet that target.
Indeed, the need for a very different approach was clearly shown in the article.
However, there is a very practical way of making real headway even before investing more money – talk to those at the front line who know what is happening. Your paper presented a picture that is at variance with the official view. If we want a caring and inclusive society we must, like you did last Sunday, begin by acknowledging what is wrong and seek to address why people find themselves alone on the streets in the first instance.
Director & Co-Founder