State’s homeless groups ‘should be consolidated’

Homelessness charities say there are too many State-funded organisations dealing with those without housing, and some should be axed.

More than 75 charities and groups currently receive State funding to provide homeless services. Last year, €95m — or around €19,000 for every homeless person — was spent by the State on homeless services.

This figure does not take into account spending on building social housing for those without a home.

The two main State funders are the HSE, which provided €31m towards homeless services last year, and the housing authorities, which gave out more than €64m. Other departments and State agencies also provide funding, including Tusla, the Education and Training Boards (ETBs), and regional drug taskforces.

There are huge differences in the amount of funding provided, with organisations receiving anything from €15,000 up to €5m.

The Peter McVerry Trust says many homeless organisations should be shut down to create a better and more streamlined service.

Focus Ireland and Cork Simon Community also believe that any duplication of services should be cut, to ensure value for money.

There are 6,525 homeless people in Ireland according to latest figures — up from around 5,000 a year ago. Over the years, many groups and charities have been set up to tackle the issue at local level, and the sector now operates on an “ad hoc basis” said Francis Doherty of the Peter McVerry Trust.

He said that, in Dublin, just five service providers could deal with all homeless requirements, while, at a regional level services could be provided, across whole counties or even across two or three counties by one organisation.

Paul Sheehan of Cork Simon said: “I can certainly see the value in charities, particularly smaller ones, merging or certainly sharing resources to save on running costs.”

Roughan McNamara of Focus Ireland said: “You cannot be afraid of shutting down of services if it’s not working, and we have done that with some of our services in the past.”


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