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'The impact of this is untold': Health funding for homelessness has dropped since 2008

Dublin Simon Community said that health funding for homelessness has dropped by 10% since 2008.

Image: Leon Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

A LEADING HOMELESSNESS charity has called for more government support after an analysis showed that health funding has decreased since 2008 despite homeless numbers jumping up.

Ahead of the launch of its annual impact report, the Dublin Simon Community said that health funding for homelessness has dropped by 10% since 2008.

In 2008, the health spend was over €36 million with 1,388 homeless adults using emergency accommodation in Dublin. Now, with almost 6,000 people in emergency beds in the capital, the figure is at €32.6 million.

Homeless health spending has gone up slightly since 2014, but in that time homelessness has jumped by 170%.

Spend 

Care for homeless people in Ireland is administered for the most part by charities, with the government effectively outsourcing its role to a wide range of non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Housing, social care and support services provided by charities are funded in part from government (and in part from donations).

This is known as Section 10 funding, and is administered to a range of charities by the Department of Housing (formerly the Department of the Environment).

Funding for healthcare services for homeless people (medical care, psychiatric services, addiction treatment, etc.) is  separate to the general Section 10 funding, coming instead from HSE grants.

These grants were reduced significantly following the 2008 economic collapse. Dublin Simon’s analysis shows that they still haven’t recovered to their pre-crash levels.

“The lack of appropriate health investment, mental health and addiction services is causing lasting damage to people who are homeless,” said CEO Sam McGuinness.

“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.

The wider societal impact of this is untold as we continue to face the worst homeless crisis in the history of our state.

McGuinness said that since 2008, Dublin Simon’s treatment health spend increased to €2.3 million, with donor and other support making up a 54% shortfall in funding.

“This year we begin plans to expand from 64 to 125 medical treatment beds, which will be very challenging to deliver due to the largely inadequate health budget,” he said.

Developments 

Dublin Simon’s report for last year shows that there was a 32% increase in its caseload last year.

In total, it provided community services to 5,100 people and families across Dublin, Wicklow, Kildare and Meath.

The charity saw a 40% increase in its accommodation units during the year. The number of people accessing its emergency accommodation was 836, a 21% increase since 2015.

A total of 312 adults and children were in permanent homes provided by Dublin Simon Community by the end of 2016.

The Dublin Simon Community report will be launched later today by Lord Mayor Micheál Mac Donncha

Read: ‘Too many people are being left behind’: Calls to make housing a priority in the Budget

Read: Homeless organisation came across three overdoses on Dublin streets last night

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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