The rat-infested tents and discarded rubbish that is reality for homeless in city camp
With 11,542 people now homeless in Ireland, according to the Government’s latest figures, this camp is one of many across the city
The reality of Dublin’s homeless crisis is nestled in a field in the inner city. Away from prying eyes, lies a camp of homeless people living in rat-infested tents and rubbish.
Discarded duvets, blankets and pieces of tents are scattered across the grass with food containers, cans and plastic bottles. Clothing hangs from the trees and is scattered across the ground.
“My wardrobe,” says Lucas, a homeless man who came to Ireland seven years ago from Poland. Like many of the city’s homeless, he refuses to use emergency accommodation in the city centre.
He said the only thing he wants is “something for the mice and rats”, as well as a shower.
“If you have something for those rats, anything,” he said.
Lucas has been living at the site alongside five or six others for the last two months and feels it is safer than the hostels. “I got two brand new tents. Some things are good for me here and some things are not,” he said from inside his tent.
“I’ve been in hostels for years, now I just stay out. I’m good, I just need time to sort out my things,” he added.
With 11,542 people now homeless in Ireland, according to the Government’s latest figures, this camp is one of many across the city.
Walking across the site, I was advised to be alert not to step on human faeces or drug paraphernalia.
The route is also used as a pedestrian walkway to a nearby business park.
Lucas suffers from an opioid addition and was told the site will be cleaned up “soon”.
He said he is receiving a weekly social payment, while outreach charity workers check on the site regularly, bringing food, clothing and essential supplies to the site.
Less than 100 metres across the field there are three men from Spain living in tents. Florence, who has set up home here, has a job but cannot afford accommodation.
Beside Florence’s tent, another tent has been slashed and volunteers from Streetlink Homeless Support said no one has been seen at this tent since Tuesday.
In a separate corner of the field, nestled among the trees, is a single tent with a shopping trolley overlooking the river.
Beside it lies a large collection of rubbish and a cooking pit made of a wire tray and stones that has recently been lit. However, Isaaq, as identified by volunteers, is not home.
Pádraig Drummond, CEO of Streetlink Homeless Support, said the five people living in this field camp, found last week, set up their tents in the last two months.
He said attempts have been made to contact Dublin City Council and the Dublin Region Homeless Executive to request medical assistance and have the rubbish removed.
Streetlink Homeless Support has volunteers on the street most nights of the week offering outreach services and welfare checks.
Mr Drummond said many of the homeless are choosing to sleep rough rather than use emergency accommodation because of safety and addiction issues in the hostels.
“The main issue is safety. They don’t feel safe going in because they could be assaulted, intimidated, robbed when they fall asleep,” he said.
“There is no security when they are in a dorm room with upwards of four to six people that they don’t know.”
Mr Drummond said the “vast majority” of rough sleepers have some form of addiction issues.
“They are not able to use within the hostel system because it is illegal. This causes friction between staff and other people so they would rather sleep on a doorway,” he said.
Meanwhile, crack cocaine is now the “primary problematic drug” in Dublin and there is no treatment available, sparking an increase in homelessness, according to Dr Richard Healy, from Service Users Rights In Action.
Dr Healy said there is a “massive” crack cocaine problem in Dublin which has taken over from heroin.
“It’s very easily available and the problem is that there is no medication like methadone as a response,” he said, adding that the only solution is rehabilitation which is not offered in the hostels.
“It’s increasing the amount of people on the streets.
“When you see people are choosing to sleep on cold streets as opposed to a hostel bed then serious questions need to be asked. We are on the cusp of massive problems and it’s getting worse.”
The Dublin Region Homeless Executive was contacted for comment.
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