Homeless help 'at breaking point'
Homeless services across Dublin are at breaking point after years of budget cuts by health chiefs, it has been claimed.
More than half of the country's 5,000 homeless people live in the capital, with the majority relying on emergency accommodation each night and a small number sleeping rough.
The Dublin Homeless Network - which represents 23 charities across the city - warned cuts by the Health Service Executive (HSE) of an average 20% since 2010 have left them struggling as demand for support continues to rise.
It claimed a survey of members found any further losses in funding will result in the closure of services as the impact of the recession deepens.
Catherine Maher, chairperson of the Homeless Network, said services have done everything in their power to protect front-line services.
"Staff and volunteers have maintained services to the growing number of people who are homeless," she said.
"But this survey makes clear that homeless services are now at breaking point and if the HSE hits us again cuts will fall on direct services to the most vulnerable in our society. People who are homeless have already suffered the worst from the recession.
"The scale of the cuts experienced by the homeless sector is wrong, not just because it hits services to those who have not even a roof over their heads, but because it ends up costing the HSE more as people fall back on hospitals and other health services."
The organisations, which include Merchants Quay Ireland, Dublin Simon Community, Focus Ireland and the Capuchin Day Centre, revealed they had to cut or freeze staff wages and working hours as well as make redundancies.
In response, HSE Dublin Mid Leinster (DML) said it jointly funds services for the homeless with Dublin City Council. It maintained both participated in a reconfiguration programme endorsed by the Homeless Network which has led to improved quality provision to service users, adding: "HSE DML provided additional funding at the end of last year which facilitated an additional number of beds in the Ushers Island Detox Respite Stabilisation Unit."