Simon criticises effect of funding cuts on health of homeless

Thu, Dec 20, 2012, 00:00

At least four homeless people have died so far this winter as the number of those sleeping on the streets increases.

Yesterday, the Simon Communities of Ireland criticised the Government over a €5 million cut to funding for 2013, insisting housing was a critical service it could not neglect.

Further cuts are anticipated from the Health Service Executive next month.

At the launch of its 2011 annual report yesterday, charity spokeswoman Niamh Randall said the Government had a central role to play and that cuts should be subject to a homeless impact statement.

“We in Simon are seeing an increase in the numbers of people turning to our services all around the country in recent times,” she said. “The solution to homelessness is access to appropriate housing with support. However, this is proving very difficult in the current climate. This winter so far, no fewer than four people who were homeless have been found dead in towns as far apart as Tralee and Bray.”

She said the impact of the crisis was that those living in poverty and on the brink of homelessness were being pushed over the edge.

Yesterday’s report was launched by the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, with responsibility for housing, Jan O’Sullivan.

She said that, while economic conditions were of obvious concern, it was her priority to tackle the issue of homelessness. “We are ensuring that our policies are aimed towards, first of all, prevention and, secondly, supporting people in homes rather than having people staying in shelters for long periods of time,” she said.

However, despite praising the junior minister’s determination, the Simon Communities of Ireland has criticised a decision to reduce central funding to just €50 million next year. Yesterday’s launch took place at the charity’s new Blessington Street permanent housing initiative, which will give homes to 12 people from next January.