Dublin’s housing crisis has reached an all-time high. Rents have been rising steadily in the Irish capital ever since 2014, when the city truly began to recover from the economic recession of 2008. Today, it’s cheaper to pay a mortgage there than it is to pay rent. Because there’s no longer enough housing stock to go around, landlords are having a field day, and Airbnb has started overtaking potential long-term units to make them available for short-term, transitory residents.
One of the most pronounced results of this, and an issue that has plagued Dublin since long before the recession, is widespread homelessness. There are currently around 9,900 homeless people in Ireland, and nearly 4,000 of them are children. In times of crises such as these, there is one powerful weapon being wielded by the country’s humanitarian community: street art.
The street art collective Subset has been painting large-scale murals around Dublin for a number of years now, but their “Grey Area Project” has a three-fold mission: to decorate the vacant walls of the city with colorful and thought-provoking pieces, to protest the city council’s strict regulation of street art, and to draw attention to the current housing crisis. The murals, which are created by a variety of different artists from Dublin, are on walls that have prominent locations in the city but have previously been overlooked, and they’ve been instrumental in raising awareness and holding the authorities to account.
One of their most to-the-point pieces is entitled “No Place Like Homeless” and rests squarely in the city center. This particular mural was done by the collective in advance of their Grey Area Project Exhibition II fundraiser, which was held in the Dublin Docklands in October of 2018. The exhibition featured a number of murals painted on the walls of a shopping center that was never occupied with tenants after its completion during the recession.
Today, the center hosts several public events and markets, but for the brief period of time that Subset took over the building, each guest was charged a €30 entrance fee, which also covered the cost of a magazine documenting the project and food, drink, and entertainment for the evening. Once inside, patrons had the option to purchase t-shirts and prints by the artists, each of which cost another €30. All of the proceeds from the night were donated to the Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH) organization.
Subset hopes to continue highlighting the plight of homeless people in a city where the wealth gap is constantly growing greater all the time. Not only are they raising money for an incredible cause, but they’re also painting amazing murals that brighten up the city and giving artists a space to truly express themselves. So far, Subset has raised over €12,500 for ICHH from the sale of tickets, prints, t-shirts, and caps.