Major increase in homelessness
There has been a significant increase in the number of people sleeping rough in Ireland despite the opening of extra shelter capacity, the Simon Communities of Ireland has warned.
The charity has lamented a €5 million cut in government funding for 2013 even though a proportion of the 2012 budget of €55 million went unused.
Launching its annual report for 2011 today, the organisation pointed to a 20 per cent increase in the level of homelessness in Dublin between April and November of this year.
It also said there was a “significant rise” in Cork where fewer than two people were sleeping rough on any night in March compared to an average of nine people each night in October.
“This winter so far, no fewer than four people who were homeless have been found dead in towns as far apart as Tralee [Co Kerry] and Bray [Co Wicklow],” said spokeswoman Niamh Randall.
“Every month more and more people find themselves at the edge of homelessness.”The Simon Community is a nationwide organisation that provides accommodation and support for the homeless with the help of over 2,000 volunteers.
However, it has criticised a fall off in funding despite praising the determination of Minister of State for Housing Jan O’Sullivan to ring-fence its budget.
It says State resourcing will fall by €5 million next year.
“The government must provide the funding necessary to address the crisis,” said Ms Randall.
“Constant cutbacks undermine our efforts to provide sufficient housing with health and social care support to meet the needs of the thousands of people who are now homeless.”
Ms O’Sullivan, who launched today’s report, said it was her personal priority to tackle the problem.
“Particularly at this time of year we are all aware of the scandal that it is, of people having to sleep on the streets,” she said.
“We all know that we are in difficult times; we all know that money is very, very tight. I have been working very hard to protect the budget for homelessness this year.”
Further cuts to homeless services are anticipated from the Health Service Executive (HSE) next month.
Today’s launch took place at the new Blessington Street Permanent Housing Initiative which will offer supported accommodation to 12 people from January.
Last year the Simon Communities of Ireland generated more than €1.7 million in income, over 85 per cent of which was sourced from donations. However, it recorded an overall deficit of just under €170,000.