Homeless are being eclipsed -Simon

 

Paul Cullen

Homelessness has "slipped off the political agenda" even though the number of people without accommodation has reached crisis levels, the Simon community has said in its annual review.

Last year's social partnership process delivered nothing on homelessness and "froze out" the voices of those who challenged Government thinking, according to the chairwoman of Simon, Ms Anne Connolly.

Ms Connolly acknowledged that the first three years of the Government's homeless strategy had seen "substantial and positive" changes. A tripling of funding for homeless services was "very encouraging".

"However, it appears that homelessness has now slipped off the political agenda. Recent lack of progress on many of the Government's stated commitments is cause for concern."

The homelessness figures, which revealed that the numbers of people in dire need were at crisis levels, were left unpublished for 13 months, she said. Half the budget for homelessness was being spent on B&B accommodation in the Dublin area.

Official figures for the number of homeless show an increase from 5,234 in 1999 to 5,581 in 2002. However, groups working in the area believe the real figure is much higher. About 300 homeless people sleep rough in Dublin every night.