State spends €19k for every homeless person nationwide

The State spent more than €19,000 for every homeless person in the country last year on services and supports alone.

This figure, compiled by the Irish Examiner, does not include the construction or refurbishment of social houses for those sleeping rough or in emergency accommodation.

Nor does it include the amount of money that local authorities supplemented from their own resources, on top of the allocation they received from the Department of Environment for homeless supports. More than €95m — or around €19,000 for every homeless person — was spent by the State on homeless services last year.

Millions more was spent on building new homes, including the development of 22 modular units in Poppintree in Dublin which cost €4.2m or around €190,000 per unit to build.

Last year, 2,313 homeless exited emergency accommodation into sustainable State-supported tenancies.

This was through a mixture of refurbished void units, rent supplement tenancies, HAP tenancies, Approved Housing Body properties, as well as new social housing schemes where only some units would have been for “homeless” and so costs are difficult to quantify.

The HSE allocated €31m to homeless services while the Department of Environment provided €64.77m in funding through local housing authorities.

However, there are a myriad of other government departments and state bodies which provide funding.

There are also differences in the amount of funding provided, with organisations receiving anything from €15,000 right the way up to €5m. The Peter McVerry Trust has called for a simpler system where organisations would apply for annual funding though a single state agency.

While the larger organisations now have the capacity to comply with additional demands from the charity regulator, Revenue, and other bodies, smaller groups do not have these facilities according to Francis Doherty of the Peter McVerry Trust. He added that because charities and groups have to apply to up to 10 different State bodies and agencies for support they can face multiple audits each year.

Roughan MacNamara of Focus Ireland said that while money may be granted in many cases funding does not actually come through when needed which puts pressure on services.

“A lot of the time the funding is earmarked but is not actually going to an organisation until very late in the year. I think we should look at more efficiency in that.”

Other funders of homeless services, include the Department of Justice through the Probation Service, which provided €70,000 to the Peter McVerry Trust alone.

Pobal also provide grants to homeless services. Last year, this included €49,257 to Cork City Council to provide a holistic personal development programme for young people not in employment or training who are extremely marginalised and using homeless services in Cork.

The Simon Community of Ireland also received €90,227 in 2015. Education and Training Boards (ETBs) and local drug task forces are another source of funds.

Tusla, the child and family agency, which has a dedicated senior manager with responsibility for vulnerable groups, also allocates money to homeless projects.

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