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Media Releases 2013

Simon Calls for Action as Housing Crisis for People who are Homeless Looms

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Simon Calls for Action as Housing Crisis for People who are Homeless Looms

An in-depth research report exploring the range of possible exits from homelessness in Ireland, and access to long-term housing was launched today by Jan O’ Sullivan TD, Minister of State at the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government with special responsibility for Housing and Planning.

Commissioned by the Simon Communities in Ireland and conducted by Nicholas Pleace and Joanne Bretherton of the University of York , ‘Finding the Way Home’ indicates that ‘Housing Led’ approaches, which are currently at the heart of Government policy, are very effective in delivering sustainable housing options for people who are homeless and in need of ongoing support. A ‘Housing-Led’ approach to tackling homelessness involves access to permanent housing with ongoing support appropriate to each person’s needs as the primary response to homelessness.

At today’s launch the Simon Communities warned that budget cuts to services and a shortage of social or private rented housing will hinder the success of the government’s housing-led approach and will serve to deepen the homelessness crisis.

Niamh Randall, Simon’s National Spokesperson said “We are delighted that the Government’s Homelessness Policy Statement launched in February 2013 endorses housing-led approaches as part of its overall response to homelessness. ‘Finding the Way Home’ clearly demonstrates the potential for such a response to be effective. But the research findings deepen our concerns that there is no indication of where the essential ingredient - quality, affordable housing - will come from. With up to 50 people turning to homeless services in Dublin alone each week we need a significant increase in the number of homes made available for people who are homeless if we are to cope with the demand and reduce the overall numbers of people who are long term homeless”.

Jan O’Sullivan T.D minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government with special responsibility for Housing and Planning said “There can be no greater solution to homelessness than providing people with a home where they can live as full and valued members of society and as Minister I have ensured that Government policy reflects this belief. Past policy on homelessness was driven by short-term measures and an overwhelming emphasis on emergency accommodation. Now we are striving to focus on long-term solutions to homelessness, an approach that promotes independent living. It is the right strategy, but it is not without its challenges and ensuring a supply of good quality accommodation is at the top of my agenda. I sincerely believe that working in partnership with group such as the Simon Communities we can end long-term homelessness by 2016.”

Nicholas Pleace commented at today’s event "Housing led services such as various 'Housing First' models have been shown to be an effective way to sustainably reduce living rough and long stays in emergency shelters among homeless people with high needs. However, in order to work well, these sorts of housing-led services need to be properly resourced and also follow the core values and philosophy of successful housing-led service models in Europe, Australia and North America. It is also important to bear in mind that there is no single service response that will deal with all forms of homelessness, a mix of services, including different kinds of housing-led models, is needed to prevent and reduce homelessness. In addition, existing good practice at local and national level should not be neglected when looking at how best to prevent and reduce homelessness. Existing homelessness services have sometimes been built up through an understanding of local and regional need and these existing services may also be both innovative and effective in preventing and reducing homelessness”.

‘Finding the Way Home: Housing- led Responses and the Homelessness Strategy in Ireland’ clearly demonstrates that:
  • Housing led approaches should be part of the overall service mix in Ireland maximising wellbeing, choice and independence. This should be within a framework designed to provide a sustainable path out of homelessness. 
  • The supply of affordable and good quality housing is essential to the success of housing-led approaches.
  • The focus on access to housing must include ways to tackle poor health and wellbeing, loneliness, isolation etc.
Niamh Randall continued “In Simon we are seeing an increase in the numbers of people turning to our services all around the Country. We are doing everything possible to respond; we have increased temporary accommodation where required; we are opening up new services, sometimes without Government funding, and we are developing ways of providing housing with support for people who are homeless. People need to be supported to move out of homelessness for good. The solution is access to appropriate housing with supports, this can come in many forms and is clearly recognised in the research launched today, this is supported by our own experiences on the ground every day, and this is also at the heart of the Government’s own policy on tackling homelessness.”

“We strongly support the Government’s commitment to end long term homelessness by 2016. It is now both very clear and very welcome that the Government recognises the urgency in addressing homelessness. This requires sustained political will and the development of imaginative policy responses as well the resources required to tackle homelessness effectively. We are keen to play whatever role we can in ensuring that realistic plans are put in place to make this happen.”

Jan O’ Sullivan TD, Minister of State at the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government with special responsibility for Housing and Planning today launched the Simon Communities research ‘Finding the Way Home Housing- led Responses and the Homelessness Strategy in Ireland’. Mid West Simon Community also presented their new Deposit Guarantee Scheme at this event in Limerick.

If you would like to read the research in more detail please click here for the summary and click here for the full report.


For media queries and interview requests: 

Linda Mc Kenny, Simon Communities of Ireland

Tel: 085 8065141 E:

Editors Notes

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, supported temporary accommodation, tenancy sustainment & settlement services, housing advice & information services. All 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.

About Nicholas Pleace:

Nicholas Pleace is an expert in housing support services and service evaluation with a specific interest in services for homeless people and other vulnerable people who need support to live in the community. Active in academic and policy research in homelessness, community care and social housing for more than 20 years, Nicholas has worked on homeless research for the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland
governments. He has directed research on homelessness for the UK Departments of Health (DoH), Work and Pensions (DWP), Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and work on ‘Housing First’ for the French Government. He has also directed research for the UK homelessness charities Centrepoint, Crisis and Shelter. Nicholas is the UK representative on European Observatory on Homelessness under the auspices of Federation Europeenne d'Associations Nationales Travaillant avec les Sans-Abri (FEANTSA) and is a member of the European Network for Housing Research.

About the research:

In light of the Government’s commitment to end long term homelessness by implementing a housing-led approach, the Simon Communities in Ireland commissioned a piece of research to explore the potential effectiveness of housing-led services in meeting the needs of people who are homeless with support needs in Ireland. The research was undertaken by the Nicholas Pleace and Joanne Bretherton of the Centre for Housing Policy in York University.

The research was designed to gather the views of people who were homeless, front line and management staff delivering homelessness services within Simon Communities and the views of other homelessness service providers on the potential use of housing led services in Ireland. The key questions for the research centred on whether housing-led services would represent an improvement on existing practice in service delivery in Ireland. The research was intended as a critical appraisal of the adoption of the housing-led approach in Ireland, looking at the international evidence, the opinions of people who were homeless and service providers and asking them to consider the merits and demerits of housing led responses in relation to existing homelessness service provision in Ireland.

Homelessness Policy Statement:

In February 2013 the Government launched a Homelessness Policy Statement which endorsed housing led approaches and committed to ending long term homelessness by 2016 see

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