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Dublin Hires Homeless as City Tour Guides: ‘No One Knows a City Better’

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In an effort to give those experiencing homelessness the ability to reintegrate into society and make a living, the city of Dublin, Ireland is hiring former homeless people to work as tour guides.


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Dublin has launched a homeless crisis tour. Led primarily by a formerly homeless guide. The iconic city is struggling with a well-known adversary to cities: people without homes.

“Homelessness could become socially acceptable, become the norm” Derek McGuire a Secret Street Tour leader states. McGuire slept on the streets for two years, he shows his tour these streets and passes five homeless hostels nearby. The tour is 90 minutes and it costs €10 euro. The tour is designed to bring awareness to the heightened social crisis.

This is a nationwide housing crisis with inflated rent, gentrification and 10,000 Dubliners remaining homeless. Thousands have marched to demand lower rent and more affordable living. To hear another story about the condition of the country watch this video about Nuala, a single mom, and her daughter below.

As for McGuire, he worked for 25 years in the voluntary sector. After a failed relationship, and a property crash he couldn’t pay his mortgage. “My spirit was broken,” he said. “Sleeping out in the city center, that was my worst nightmare. I had to put on my Bear Grylls head. It was going to be about survival.”

McGuire would seek respite in airports pretending to be a traveler. “I had far too much pride. I’d sooner starve than ask people for money” he stated. He was ready to take hospice at Merchants Quay Ireland, a local charity which he now calls home.

“I see this as an opportunity to tell my story,” McGuire states about leading these guided tours. The tours build confidence and dignity in the tour guides while letting bystanders into the social challenges of the city. Too few new homes are being built across Ireland, McGuire thinks homelessness will continue to rise. Learn more about the tours here.