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Commissioned study Eight homeless people died on streets of Dublin in 2020, according to report

They were among 79 reported deaths of homeless people living in either long-term, family or emergency accommodation

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A tent on O'Connell Street during the week of the Spring Count, carried out by the Simon Community. Pic: Steve Humphreys

A tent on O'Connell Street during the week of the Spring Count, carried out by the Simon Community. Pic: Steve Humphreys

A tent on O'Connell Street during the week of the Spring Count, carried out by the Simon Community. Pic: Steve Humphreys

Eight homeless people died on the streets of the capital last year, including three rough sleepers, according to a study commissioned by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive.

They were among 79 reported deaths of homeless people living in either long-term, family or emergency accommodation, according to the interim study by Dr Austin O’Carroll, Clinical Lead for the Dublin Covid-19 Homeless Response.

His “Interim Report on Mortality in Single Homeless Population 2020,” published today, found that 9.3pc of homeless people last year died outdoors with more than half having attended emergency accommodation the previous night.

The report will be finalised when death certificates and inquest reports from the Coroner’s Court and data on deaths in the general population from the Central Statistics Office become available.

But in the meantime, it revealed that “lower life expectancy and higher mortality rates associated with social disadvantage and addiction are primary reasons for an excess rate of mortality among persons experiencing homelessness when compared with the general population.” It found that people who are homeless for 18 months or more were eight times more likely to die than those who were homeless for six months or less.                   

Most people died in their own accommodation, whether they were in long-term or emergency accommodation, the report found.

In his conclusion, Dr O’Carroll states: "There is a propensity in the media to approach the issues of death in people experiencing homelessness from a ‘there must be someone responsible’ approach. This fails to recognise that the main determinants of low life expectancy in homelessness arises from the causes of homelessness that are associated with high mortality rates such as poverty and drug addiction and the fact that homelessness itself raises the risk of premature mortality.”

And despite the number of deaths among the homeless population last year, he concluded that “Ireland can be proud of the response to the Covid-19 Pandemic in the homeless population.”

“Compared to other jurisdictions, Ireland had a very low Covid-19 infection and death rate. This was due to the investment both monetary and human and the extensive collaborative effort between the DRHE and HSE.”

He recommends greater access to Housing First initiatives for the long-term homeless and increased access to healthcare and mental health services for those in emergency accommodation as well as an  extension of overdose and suicide prevention programmes.

The DRHE said : “The findings of the report will be carefully considered and the implementation of its recommendations will be a priority for the DRHE in consultation with the HSE, through the Dublin Region Statutory Management Group and the Consultative Forum.”

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