The agency has 76 full time staff and 20 volunteers to service the needs of 38 rough sleepers in the city in 2011 and 169 today.
Yes just one staff member for every two homeless people.
The article mentions that some non rough sleepers also avail of Simon’s services, but even taking this into account - realistically can this level of staffing be justified?
By way of comparison, Liam Doran from the nurses’ trade union mention on RTE drive time this evening that the staffing ratio in intensive care us one nurse to every three patients and in geriatric hospitals it is one nurse and one nurses’ aid per 40 patients. Yet after revealing this fact, he was greeted by a lecture from Mary Wilson about he need to make cuts.
I agree we need to make cuts but surely they should be intelligently targeted? Vital services should be protected while over staffing of organisations like Simon should be eliminated.
If as appears in the article Cork Simon spends €6.5m this year on 170 homeless persons - is that a cost of c. 38K per homeless person? and would that be on top of anything else the homeless person is entitled to/or is spent by other homeless agencies? Sounds wrong.
Clearly a crazy number but… is it not the case that homelessness is often conflagrated with some form of mental illness? I know you hear the stories of people becoming homeless due to family breakups etc, but I was under the impression that they were in the minority, and that what the majority need are extensive social services, mental heath facilities, etc than could indeed run to tens of thousands per year.
I’m assuming the vast majority of their spend is towards those who at risk of becoming homeless.
€35k per homeless person doesn’t add up for any charity, especially since they have so many unpaid volunteers.
Having lived in the “homeless industry” capitol of the world, SF, where they spend several hundred million dollars a year to keep several thousand people on the streets the simple answer is that there are very few true homeless people. At least around here. People down on their luck who have temporarily lost their home and have nowhere to live. The word “homeless” is used as a blanket term to hide a whole spectrum of heterogeneous problems, usually self inflicted, behind a simplistic and misleading tag.
The vast majority of the “homeless” are winos or junkies, the mentally ill who wont take their meds, drifters, runaways, and what were once called tramps. Basically mostly people who are where they are through their own volition or else through bad personal choices. In the case of the mentally ill, the real tragedy of the streets, in the US various human rights laws over the decades has made it almost impossible to get involuntary commitment orders for those mentally ill who need close supervision taking meds. It seems its a basic human right to not take meds that will give someone a reasonably dignified and stable life and instead let them die in utter squalor on the streets. A least a few dozen die like this every year. In just one city.
That is the real reason why you see so many mentally ill on the streets in US cities. You dont see so many in Dublin. It is a truly heart-breaking sight. But it seems this is not a problem for the progressive types whose main knowledge on the subject seems to mainly come from One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. It seems notional “rights” are more important than actual deaths.
You do see and hear genuine hard luck tales every now and then. But not that many. But on the whole most people will stay on the streets as winos and drifters until they make the decision to clean up their acts. In the meantime you’ll have thousands of NGO parasites with all their “programmes” making a very nice living from not solving the problems they hide under the vacuous and meaningless term “homelessness”. Think of the NGOs as modern secular missionaries indulging in middle class sanctimony. At least their non-secular equivalent 100 years ago preached temperance, self dignity and self worth. Which actually is part of a real solution to the underlying problem in most cases. The modern equivalent just offers a never ending (but lucrative) non-solution to a very real social problem.
I’ve seen too many pregnant junkies and neglected children to think like that.
Also from what I gather from what you term workers in the “industry” there’s a shocking correlation between child sexual abuse and ending up on the streets. I suppose you could counter that they’ve made a bad personal choice from not dealing with it adequately the way so many other survivors do. But some people just can’t cope.
Coping skills is what some of the really great workers in the “industry” help to foster in the homeless.
Brilliant post JMC. This “homeless” business (and it’s a *multi-million *Euro business) has gotten completely out of hand and the more charities that are involved it seems, the worse it gets. We’re all being hit with a massive guilt trip by these “charities” who cynically make us part with our cash on the basis of misleading information. (I’d like to know how, and why, the number of homeless families has “doubled” this year, as one radio ad keeps informing us.)
And I’ve just realised that I’ve been “homeless” myself at least three times in my lifetime - thanks to hearing Alice Leahy from Trust on the radio a few days ago. Apparently, once you have no permanent accomodation and are, for example sleeping on a friend’s couch for a period, you are deemed to be “homeless”. (And I must remind my good mate, a Dutchman, who slept on the couch in my parents sitting room for about two months in the 1980s that he was also “homeless” at the time. I think we should both offer to do one of those “reality” radio ads, where we can speak of our first hand experience of the horrors of being “homeless”.)
There’s certainly some serious payola going on in that particular field. The Corpo alone is spending €46 million or almost a quarter of its housing budget on ‘Administration of Homeless Service’ although I don’t know if some of that is distributed via the various charities. Off the top of my head there’s The Simon Community, Focus Ireland and the Peter McVerry Trust operating in the area (amongst others I presume) so straight away there’s a lot of wasted money in administration. When private hostels can profitably accommodate young backpackers for €10 or €12 a night including VAT you have to wonder where all the cash is going…
I’ve experienced a wide spectrum of people on the edge. The people who genuinely can’t cope have serious physiological conditions and need intense care, when I was growing up my mother used to take care of children who were in and out of the institutions during the Summer holidays when she had me and my siblings available. In practice that meant us having to give constant attention during the day as their defects required that, to put them to sleep in the evening they were often given medication. Quality of live was not great for the extreme cases, down syndrome is relatively easy to cope with on the spectrum. Most of these people die before the age of 40 due to these conditions which tends to be hard on the parents involved having put so much time and effort into caring for the individual. In about half the situations we handled the children had been totally rejected as a result of the defect they were born with and got dumped in a state institution, they experienced very low quality of life. That’s my experience of the extreme end of the spectrum.
Given where I live currently I meet another class of people who are on the margin and the quality of life these people experience depends on their willingness to engage with other people and given human nature they have a support structure built up around them and generally people around them look out for them. That was one of the problems with the evictions during the Summer they disrupted the support structure these people had built up around them, the well meaning landlords around the place did put them up in up alternative accommodation while they renovated the place, their rent still went up though. The landlords who decided to call it a day gave the tenants their notice and sold up or boarded up the premises. A few of those former tenants were camping out in the Phoenix park over the Summer, having nowhere to go. those people can cope because they are willing to engage and human empathy takes care of the rest.
There is is another class of of person that is classed as being unable to cope and these people will either not engage or have engaged in some anti-social behaviour that warrants their expulsion. These are the people you very often see on the street sleeping rough, the reasons they will not engage are varied, it can be as you say physical or sexual abuse in the home forcing them to runaway, the key thing is trying to catch them before they fall in the hands of predators (as I have indicated before these predators exist across all strata of Irish society) otherwise there is nothing you can do to help them. There are another class of men who may at one time have held down a job and a family and through their own acts have alienated themselves from their family and seek refuge in alcohol or drugs. They are there of their own volition either they sort themselves out or they end up in the city morgue within 5 years. There are also men of no fixed abode who drift around from city to city sometimes London or Birmingham and sometimes Dublin and I don’t know why but it seems to be a lifestyle choice for them.
Yes it* is *a disgrace (and I’m sure there was a thread or two about it.) But we’re talking here about 35K *per annumn *per “homeless” person - plus all the other benefits they’re “entitlted” to (and the charges they’re exempt from) - not to mention what they receive from the dozens of other “homeless” and other “most vulernable in society” charities…oh,and not forgetting the begging reciepts of course…
I was in no way trying to justify the 35k figure. More so highlight the tendency pervasive in this country where a large proportion of people working justify their existence and right to livelihood on the misery and indignity of others who through luck, circumstance or personal traits find themselves on the wrong side of a ‘helping’ relationship… The experience of walking into a fas office or training room is very similar to being forced to accept what we call ‘charity’ in this country. The people who benefit disproportionally are the self appointed benevolent. What the so called ‘needy’ really need is empowerment and dignity. But instead they get ‘alms’ and condescension wrapped up in a charade of genuine concern. It is a distasteful situation - one I can only see being resolved by universal income and the doing away with all of these type of organisation, both state and ngo. The other point is we need to roll back this huge effort of papering over the cracks and faults of the free market system. Leave them stark so that it can properly evolve to be more suited to real human needs.
A free market system is just voluntary exchange, and it will never be as as good as heaven or utopia. There are people in the world who for various reasons cannot participate fully and need help from other participants, in a free market based around capitalism the means are available to accommodate them, societies that are based on subsistence living have very limited resources and cannot carry a person in need for long. Your proposed universal income solution relies on the same system of organised violence that currently keeps market participants from peacefully resolving the problems created by those interventions in the first place, and fundamentally it does not address the problem of poverty which is the inability to cope with life. You once wrote it in your signature “panics do not destroy capital; they merely reveal the extent to which it has been previously destroyed by its betrayal into hopelessly unproductive works.” Why would having universal income not produce the same outcome once the capital reserve has been exhausted?
Far from me to challenge the facts that bubble up through jmc’s and hifi’s opinions on the subject of sloth and homelessness with facts…(you really can tell that someone is a raving right winger when they refer adoringly to the 19th century and blame all social ills on the left)
Whatever about Cork where you seemingly have a minor homeless problem SF has a large number of people living on the streets. 11% of them are veterans but the largest number, as is the case throughout the US, are children. The rest are made up of the mad and various sorts of addicts. Another chunk are ex prisoners who may not qualify for for stamps and other forms of aid. That said between 2005 and 2012 US homelessness fell dramatically, and not because al these layabouts suddenly discovered protestantism, rather because of some success the GW Bush had in tackling the problem. Were moral failings the reason for homelessness then programs would hardly make a dent in it…