One night on the streets helping Irish homeless

Jeremy Chassang

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One evening spent with the Angel Smile Association give an insight into the situation of the homeless population of Dublin.

Homeless man on Dame Street - Photo Credit by Lorraine Morris
Homeless man on Dame Street – Photo Credit by Lorraine Morris

The Simon association just released in June 2016 the statistics concerning homeless people and the situation is getting worse with increasing numbers. There are many reasons to explain what is happening in Dublin. The Circular decided to follow the Angel Smile Association to meet the Dubliners and get their point of view about the homeless crisis.

Since my company made bankrupt, I tried many times to find a job but without a degree it was impossible and I had to leave my house”. These are the words of James who is living for 5 years in the streets of Dublin. “I’d already lost hope to find a house one day,” he said. James actually tried to apply for many jobs but companies don’t want to hire people who are living in the street. For Cindy and Karl, It’s pretty different, Cindy was pregnant when her landlord asked her to leave her house in Dublin 6, the reason was that “couples with children were forbidden”, so when Cindy’s landlord learnt that Cindy was pregnant he decided to make them move away. “In the last 6 months, we are going from hotels to hotels, fortunately, Karl didn’t lose his job and so we keep having incomes each month, but if it wasn’t the case we would be sleeping on the street tho.” This young couple is dealing with another issue, they have enough money to rent a flat, but they just can’t. It appears that many couples sometimes with children are facing the same problem, so they are placed in specials hotels to help them and to provide them with a safe environment for children.

According to Amy, the problem is located somewhere else. Amy is homeless for now 3 years, and on her own Irish people are not able to find accommodations because there are too many people in Ireland and not enough apartments for everybody. “Those foreigners, even the students are also facing the same situation as us, because there are not enough flats for Irish and for foreigners, that’s really sad, but they should choose other destinations,” she said. That could also be an explanation for what is happening in Dublin, the fact is that Ireland is still the 9th favourite destination for the students and every year hundreds of students reach Ireland to learn English or make a degree. Angel Smile association often go to Dublin 1 where a student is living, in a kind of shelter, which is a warm and safe one according to the association, his name is Adil and he comes from Pakistan. The situation of Adil is simple, he arrived in Ireland with a really good level in English, he passed the exams for the best universities in Dublin, succeeded the one of a great college, then he started his degree but he never find an accommodation, everything was too expensive for him, but he couldn’t go back in Pakistan. “My situation is even better here than in Pakistan, even if sometimes I’m on the street, at least I’ve got a future if I get my degree, I’ll get out of the streets”.

“I feel like I’m not useful anymore for the society”

Of course, it is important to find houses for every Irish people who are currently asking for it, but another problem appears then. Johnny is living in the streets since 2008, after the Financial crash, his company made bankrupt and it became impossible for him to find another job. Being undergraduate and specialized in some manual labours started to be a drawback after 2008. Companies didn’t want to hire any longer and so Johnny stayed unemployed during many months before losing his apartment. “I used to work in an assembly line for cars motors, but nowadays technologies can replace me, I feel like I’m not useful anymore for the society.” The Angel Smile Association knows Johnny well and made him apply for many jobs during many years and they also agreed on the point that It is no longer possible for some “workers” without a degree to find a decent job. That’s a situation which appeared a lot in the United States. It’s Joseph Schumpeter’s gale, “creative destruction”, but sometimes when a job disappears, he’s never replaced by another one, most of the time because of innovations.

Handwritten story by an homeless woman on Grafton Street - Photo Credit by Sean MacEntee
Handwritten story by a homeless woman on Grafton Street – Photo Credit by Sean MacEntee

     The homeless crisis linked with the accommodation crisis is still expanding in Ireland, there’s no longer enough apartments for all the people living on the island. The voluntary working for Angel Smile association start thinking since few months that the situation will never get better. On their point of view, when we ask them what are the solutions, they say “The Irish Prime Minister must take real decisions, we must start taking care about the people who are living in the streets, we need to create laws to protect them, feed them and get them a shelter. But most of all, the government needs now to take back the control on accommodations, every apartments which are not currently rent or “sleeping” as we can say, the landlord should have to pay a large amount of taxes, and then it could convince them to rent their flat to people who really need, that’s the opinion of most of our voluntaries.” So, that is an option taken by this association who makes his best to save people’s lives every day.

  • The Simon Association Statistics of the homeless population in Dublin:

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Jeremy Chassang

  • Léo Garnier

    Good job there man, that’s one of the first problems I noticed when I arrived here :/

    • Jeremy Chassang

      thank you for comment, yes unfortunately the situation is hard to understand and realize before you see it by yourself