Belfast Telegraph

More spent on healthcare for homeless as recession hit than now, campaigners say

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

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

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

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.

And it said that their length of stay has grown by a third in a year.

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

"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 Dublin 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 said a bed for the night will not solve the problems.

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 Community provided services to 5,100 people and families across Dublin, Wicklow, Kildare and Meath in 2016, a 32% increase on the work it did in 2015.

Staff and volunteers had nearly 20,000 contacts with people, including rough sleepers, on their outreach team and soup run.

They also provided 250,000 meals and almost 1,000 GP appointments at the Mobile Health Unit, in partnership with Safetynet.

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

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