The housing crisis and collapse of the Celtic Tiger in the first decade of the 2000s led to a major increase in homelessness in Ireland. However, organizations like Merchant’s Quay in Dublin are hoping to help Ireland’s homeless population as well as bring awareness to a crisis that has escalated in recent years.
According to FOCUS Ireland, the increased rates of homelessness is directly caused by Ireland’s lack of social housing provisions and the pressure on the private rental market, leading to rising rent levels and lack of property to rent. As of mid-February 2018, 9,870 people were homeless, an increase of 40 percent from February 2017.
Merchant’s Quay Ireland established Ireland’s first homeless night café in 2015, a place where up to 70 people can eat, shower, and spend the night in a safe and warm environment away from the streets.
In its opening year, according to the Irish Examiner, an average of 47 people per night stayed. In 2016, the percentage increased with 60 people per night, and in 2017, the café had an average of 53 people sleeping at the facility per night with 1,893 first-time clients during the year. These people include 1,789 families with 3,755 children.
Not only does the café provide basic necessities, it also provides facilities for help with drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness as they are also leading causes of homelessness in Ireland. ♦ Dave Lewis