Sir, – Another report, the findings of which come as little surprise to many of us working in the field of homelessness, notes that only 90 out of the 2,677 people who were homeless had progressed into independent living (Carl O’Brien, Home News, February 27th). It has become all too easy to look at statistics and move them around when convenient, without accepting the complexities of homelessness, not least that of the human condition.
For many people labelled homeless, their exclusion has its roots in childhood experience, often leading to addiction and mental health problems. Many people find comfort and acceptance in hostels run on very little money, but with huge dedication. It has become all too easy for “experts” to criticise those who attempt to meet the needs of these “outsiders” while it must be stressed that this in some instances has also allowed the State to renege on its responsibility.
The exclusion and isolation of many experiencing homelessness has at times been reduced by services and facilities that those far removed would consider outmoded. Moving people on to independent living in an environment not of their choosing without appropriate statutory and voluntary services in place is a recipe for disaster.
There is a rush to success in changing a homeless person’s lifestyle within a specific timescale, while he or she has to give detailed personal data on an ongoing basis to be shared and researched (which is something most of us are not required to do).
It can be envisaged that a lot of people with a lot of problems will be housed in the same area if property comes on stream. Some communities today are still struggling from the failure of previous administrations to address this issue or accept this fact.
People should not be isolated further or blamed because they don’t fit in easily to a definition or box decided by “experts”. A mind- boggling sum of €60 million of taxpayers’ money is to be spent on homeless services this year and that excludes welfare and housing benefits. Does this include Dublin City Council funding for privately- run hostels? Information on these premises is confidential to the owner and Dublin City Council and forms part of the private rented emergency accommodation.
This information should be available to the public as a first step to ensure “detailed requirements on how State funds should be spent”. – Yours, etc,