Simon calls for a national response to Ireland's homeless crisis.

Homelessness is one of the most avoidable social problems of our time according to the Simon Community.

Between three and five thousand people are homeless in Ireland today and their numbers are growing.

In Dublin alone, the Simon Community shelter houses fifty people a night with fifteen of those sleeping on the floor. At the Simon shelter in Galway, numbers have risen from thirteen to fifteen a night and overcrowding at the Dundalk centre has caused them to limit the number of people admitted. Every day fifty people avail of the facilities at Simon's soup kitchen in Dublin with many of them sleeping rough in derelict buildings. 

Simon blame lack of access to local authority housing and inadequate social welfare payments for the problem.

According to the Simon Community's pre-budget submission, homeless people can spend up to three years sleeping rough while on the housing waiting list. 

Less than a thousand local authority houses will be built this year compared with seven thousand completions five years ago. 

Simon has now called for reinvestment in local authority housing, an increase in social welfare payments, the introduction of an integrated system of housing benefits, and the reform of laws which discriminate against people who find themselves homeless.

Brian Harvey of the Simon Community believes that the problem is entirely avoidable if the government made adequate resources and services available. 

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 3 January 1989. The reporter is Orla Guerin.