Simon Community warns of homelessness crisis in Ireland

The Simon Community of Ireland has called for urgent action to address what it calls a growing homelessness crisis.

The charity said the number of people sleeping rough in Ireland had continued to rise.

It said official figures suggest a rise of 20% in the number of people sleeping rough in Dublin from April to November this year.

The report also indicates a significant rise in Cork.

Launching its annual 2011 report, Simon said four people who were homeless have been found dead in towns as far apart as Tralee in County Kerry and Bray, County Wicklow, so far this winter.

Simon added that the government must provide the funding necessary to address the crisis, as homeless services are beyond the point of being able to do more and more with less and less.

In Dublin the large rise in the numbers sleeping on the streets reported was despite the opening of extra shelter beds.

Simon Community national spokesperson Niamh Randall said: "Every month more and more people find themselves at the edge of homelessness."

The charity has seen an increase in the numbers of people accessing their services.

"The solution to homelessness is access to appropriate housing with support, however this is proving very difficult in the current climate," she said.

"We are doing everything possible to address the crisis. We have put extra beds in our shelters.

"We are opening up new projects, sometimes with little or no funding from government, and we are developing new ways of providing housing with support for people who are homeless."

The Simon Community said homeless services were "beyond the point of being able to do more and more with less and less".

"Government must provide the funding necessary to address the crisis. Constant cutbacks undermine our efforts to provide sufficient housing with health and social care support to meet the needs of the thousands of people who are now homeless," said Ms Randall.

"Shrugging our shoulders and accepting that people who are homeless must suffer for the sake of austerity is not acceptable. This is bad for people who are homeless, bad for business and bad for society."

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