HOMELESS charity Simon worked with at least 4,500 people who were homeless or at serious risk of homelessness in 2009, it has said.
Launching its annual review, Patrick Burke of the Simon Communities of Ireland said it is critical that budget lines are, at the very least, maintained at current levels to protect the most vulnerable.
The charity said it had offered housing and support to at least 372 people every night, including emergency accommodation, high support housing and long-term supported accommodation.
In addition, the high levels of need among those accessing Simon services and projects around the country were highlighted, ranging from mental and physical ill-health to problem alcohol and drug use, and in many cases a combination of these.
Speaking in Galway yesterday, Mr Burke said people who access Simon services often experience many related needs which include poverty and social inclusion, mental and physical ill health, problem drug and alcohol use, and fractured family relations.
“Experience has taught us that structural issues such as poverty and social exclusion are the root causes of homelessness,” he said.
“While housing is an important part of the solution, homelessness needs to be recognised as more than not having a roof over your head, or a set of keys. Simon work each day with people who have these wide ranging needs and these needs are often interconnected.
“Therefore, to tackle long term homelessness and to support people to move out of homelessness, the provision of accommodation with appropriate housing, health and social care support based on need is critical,” she said.
Mr Burke acknowledged the success in maintaining the homeless budget in 2010 at 2009 levels, in a very tough budget negotiation, and in particular the efforts by the Minister for Housing and Local Services, Michael Finneran.
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