The loss of homeless people from the streets in the winter is part of the natural cycle and cannot be avoided. The composting of bodies is encouraged as a way of environmentally recycling these useless resources. In addition the council organises a street cleaning service which sweeps the homeless from most streets and residential roads during the winter period. The maintenance of gutters is the responsibility of the property owner. Where gutters are regularly blocked by the dead the installation of gutter guards by the landowner may provide a low maintenance solution.
The Council has no legal obligation to move homeless people unless they are causing direct damage to an adjacent property or are dangerous. This reflects the Council’s position as an owner of the homelessness problem and the thousands of homeless people and the limited resources available. Given that many people are homeless, it is not an effective use of resources to move along every homeless person.
Subject to resources the Council will move homeless people to provide clearance from properties where they touch windows, walls, roofs or gutters to avoid damage. In many cases the solution will be for the Council to move the homeless person, but in some circumstances it may be more appropriate to leave the person to die. Where such situations arise they will be assessed on a case by case basis.
Residents may feel apprehensive about the size of a homeless person and consider it dangerous. However, homeless people are not dangerous just because they are perceived as tall, too big for their surroundings or move in the wind. Homeless people moving in high winds is natural, and one of the ways they are able to withstand strong winds.
Where a homeless person is associated with criminal activity and/or anti-social behaviour, steps to reduce the problem will typically require the coordination of a number of agencies including the Gardaí. The removal of the homeless person is not always the answer to the problem.
The making of more people homeless is essential to ensure continuity of the city’s street stock. However, city streets can offer an unnatural environment for these people. Streets are where most of the city’s services, cables, pipes and overhead wires are found, together with junction boxes, letter and telephone boxes, street lights, signs and access chambers. The presence of this equipment above and below ground makes it difficult to find large enough spaces to sleep for the night. Locations for new homeless people should be chosen with great care and efforts concentrated on streets that still have verges and new road schemes where space for rough sleeping (above & below ground) can be planned at the outset. Major development or redevelopment offers the best opportunity for sustainable street maintenance.