herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

'Almost €4m less being spent on homeless health care than when recession hit in 2008'

Homeless in Dublin. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Homeless in Dublin. Photo: Fergal Phillips

More money was being spent on healthcare for the homeless as Ireland fell into recession than this year, campaigners have said.

According to the Dublin Simon Community, €36m was directed for services in 2008 compared with €32.6m now.

The agency said there had only been a slight increase in budgets since 2014, while the level of homelessness in the capital has soared by 170pc.

Dublin Simon also warned that virtually everyone in its emergency accommodation services last year was classed as long-term homeless - in need of a bed for more than six months.

It added that the length of stay has grown by a third in a year.

Dublin Simon's chief executive Sam McGuinness said the lack of money for health, mental health and addiction services was causing lasting damage.

"We see every day in our services the devastating impact this is having on our clients, as the range of mental health and social care services are simply not there," he said.

"The wider societal impact of this is untold, as we continue to face the worst homeless crisis in the history of our State."

Dublin Simon said eight new adults become homeless in the capital every day.

"A large percentage of people who are homeless have been exposed to some form of previous trauma, and can often have severe mental health and substance use issues, making it difficult to cope with the numerous hurdles they have to master in order to exit homelessness," Mr McGuinness said.

He added that a bed for the night will not solve the problems.

Looming

With the Budget looming and coinciding with World Homeless Day, Dublin Simon called for a focus on health and prevention measures to stop the daily flow of people into homelessness, as well as efforts to meet demand for accommodation.

Dublin Simon provided services to 5,100 people and families across Dublin, Wicklow, Kildare and Meath in 2016, a 32pc increase on the work it did in 2015. It also provided 250,000 meals and almost 1,000 GP appointments at the Mobile Health Unit, in partnership with Safetynet.

Dublin Simon also said it managed to stop 1,127 ­households from becoming homeless.

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