Homeless crisis magnified by cuts to mental health funding

The Simon Community has described the ongoing crisis as “fundamentally horrifying”

Homeless crisis magnified by cuts to mental health funding

File photo | Image: Rollingnews.ie

Health funding for homeless people is lower now than it was in 2008.

That is despite a massive 485% increase in the number of homeless people over those nine years.

Speaking at the launch of the Dublin Simon Community’s annual impact report for 2016, the charity described the ongoing homelessness crisis “fundamentally horrifying.”

The report found that the amount of funding for health services has fallen by about €3.5m since 2008 – despite the number of homeless people in Ireland rising by almost 7,000 people since that time.

Dublin's Lord Mayor Mícheál Mac Donncha said the shortfall shows a failure in government policy.

“It is more than worrying, it is a scandal,” he said. “The current housing crisis is a legacy of successive government’s failure to provide social and affordable housing.”

“We are now trying to address that but we are years behind.”

Tara McNeill – who was homeless for 16 years until last year – said it is hard to get access to services when you're out on the street.

“When I was there, [...] there were supports there but it is kind of accessing it,” she said.

“You kind of just get lost in the mundane days and just not kind of reaching out as well sometime because you get really bogged down with homelessness and what goes along with it.

“Because you are disconnected with society, it is just that bit harder to reach out.”

Dublin Simon spokesperson Sam McGuinness warned that the lack of funding is worrying from a mental health viewpoint - with many homeless people not having access to the services they need.

“93% of them in emergency services are homeless for more than six months,” he said.

“Six months is usually the term for emergency accommodation so now they are moving up to a year and two years.”

The report highlights the fact that there is a huge amount of work to be done – in addition to building more houses – in order to address the crisis.