The Simon Communities of Ireland today launched their Annual Report for 2011 and called for urgent action to address the growing homelessness crisis as rough sleeping increases again in Ireland. Simon noted that official figures suggest a rise of 20% in the number of people sleeping rough in Dublin from April to November2012* despite the opening of extra shelter beds. The Simon Communities also pointed to a significant rise in the numbers sleeping rough in Cork, where fewer than two people were sleeping rough on any night in March compared to an average of 9 people sleeping rough each night in October.
Speaking in advance of the launch Simon Community National Spokesperson Niamh Randall highlighted the dangers associated with rough sleeping: “This winter so far, no fewer than four people who were homeless have been found dead in towns as far apart as Tralee and Bray. Every month more and more people find themselves at the edge of homelessness.”
“We in Simon are seeing an increase in the numbers of people turning to our services all around the country in recent times. The solution to homelessness is access to appropriate housing with support however this is proving very difficult in the current climate. 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.”
Niamh Randall continued “But Government also has a role to play. Government action is central to preventing homelessness and all budgetary cuts should be subject to a homeless impact assessment with those likely to push people into homelessness being reversed. In addition, a targeted initiative is needed to raise the rent cap to ensure people who are homeless can access housing. By the end of 2012 the Government will have spent at most €50m of its €55m allocation for Homeless Services. Rather than invest the €5m saved into new initiatives to tackle homelessness the Government instead decided to reduce the allocation for 2013 by this amount. This decision was taken against a backdrop of rapidly rising levels of homelessness.
Homeless services are 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. 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.”
Jan O’ Sullivan TD, Minister of State at the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government with special responsibility for Housing and Planning is launching the Simon Communities Annual Report 2011 at the Blessington Street Permanent Housing Initiative in Dublin. While at the Launch Minister Jan O’ Sullivan will also open this new service which will provide permanent housing for 12 residents, with supports and individual care plans. This is funded through the Dublin Simon Housing Association building development fund.
To read the Simon Communities Annual Report 2011 please click here.
For media queries and interview requests
Linda Mc Kenny, Simon Communities of Ireland
Tel: 01 47 27 202/ 085 8065141 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
About Simon Community:
The Simon Communities throughout Ireland provide the best possible care, accommodation and Support for people experiencing homelessness and those at risk. Together, with people who are homeless, we tackle the root causes, promote innovative responses and urge the government to fulfil their commitments. Simon delivers support and service to between 4,500 and 5,000 individuals and families throughout Ireland who experience – or are at risk of – homelessness every year. The Simon Communities of Ireland is an affiliation of local Communities in Cork, Dublin, Dundalk, Galway, the Midlands, the Mid West, the North West and the South East.
Services range from
- Housing provision, tenancy sustainment & settlement services, housing advice & information services helping people to make the move out of homelessness & working with households at risk;
- Specialist health & treatment services addressing some of the issues which may have contributed to homeless occurring or may be a consequence;
- Emergency accommodation & support providing people with a place of welcome, warmth & safety;
- Soup runs & rough sleeper teams who are often the first point of contact for people sleeping rough.
The Blessington Street Permanent Housing Initiative. Dublin Simon Community, as a Housing Association, will provide permanent housing for 12 residents, providing supports and individual care plans. This will be a warm, safe and secure permanent home environment with long-term tenancy agreements, and support staff on site during the day. The service is for people who wish to gain employment or access educational or training programmes. Support will be provided for people to access these services and continue attending them. The service will focus on development of study skills, employment skills, life skills and independent living skills. This development will take place through onsite group work and one to one sessions.
* Official Dublin Rough Sleeper Count Figures: The street count is a way of confirming a minimum number of people sleeping rough on the night in question in Dublin and was undertaken in March and November of this year.