Homeless addicts in Dundalk risk freezing to death

Homeless services in Louth under increased pressure

Tamara O'Connell

Reporter:

Tamara O'Connell

Homeless addicts in Dundalk risk freezing to death

Dundalk Simon Community Director of Services Michelle Ryan

HOMELESS people in Dundalk who take drugs to stave off the cold in winter risk falling asleep and freezing to death, according to Dundalk Simon Community Director of Services Michelle Ryan.

Ms Ryan says she is afraid rough sleepers will die on the streets of Dundalk this winter as there is increased pressure on services.

“Everyone's doing what they can in terms of local service providers but more and more homeless from outside the county are seeking help in Co Louth,” said Ms Ryan.

Dundalk Simon Community has had a cold weather response in place since the end of October. The night service provided to the homeless is available from 5pm instead of 9pm.

“My priority is to get people in out of the cold. There are 20 beds available in the main hostel and ten beds are available for less stable clients,” she said.

“If you're homeless and need a bed for the night, you first have to go to Louth County Council and get referred by the Homeless Service.

“Beds are allocated depending on availability. Up to 50 people use Dundalk Simon Community's day centre but we work with up to 100 people per day overall.

“There are people I'm worried about, in particular those who are coming out of drug and alcohol treatment and exiting the prison service.”

The Dundalk Simon Community Director is calling for funding to provide halfway houses for homeless people with addiction issues and for those who are newly released from prison.

“We don't have a dedicated facility but if we got the funding for two halfway houses then we would be happy to run them,” she said.

“I think people in Dundalk and Drogheda would support the halfway houses. By and large people are community oriented and wouldn't say 'not next to me'.”