10th July 2014 – An in-depth research report exploring the experiences of the Simon Communities introducing housing-led services is being launched today in Waterford. Commissioned by the Simon Communities in Ireland and conducted by Dr Mark Bevan of York University, ‘Which Way Home? –The Experiences of the Simon Communities Introducing Housing-led Services’ to help inform and critically assess the use of housing-led services as a response to homelessness at both a national and local level.
This research is particularly important in light of the current housing and homeless crisis. There are 89,872 households on the social housing waiting list, rents have increased by 8.9% nationally and the number of properties available to rent nationally has declined sharply. 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.
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities said this research highlights that the supply of adequate, affordable housing remains the key challenge in addressing homelessness.
“Homelessness is the most extreme form of social housing need and must be prioritised. We need substantial investment in social housing which can then be provided by the local authorities and the Approved Housing Bodies if we are to meet the Governments goal of ending long term homelessness by 2016. Private and social housing construction must begin on a realistic scale to meet the growing demand. We support calls to increase provision for social housing by €250 million in Budget 2015. Any such schemes should also have a portion of the housing ring fenced for people who are moving out of homelessness. We also encourage Councils to explore partnerships with property developers, as is happening in Dublin City Council, which will see social and private housing builds on council lands.
“We also urgently need to address challenges in the Private Rented Sector as people on low incomes are being priced out of the market and rent supplement levels are just too low to match rising rents. The Rent Supplement Initiative operating in Dublin which allows for a higher rent supplement payment to support people to move out of homelessness needs to be rolled out nationally. This would allow people or agencies such as the Simon Communities to quickly access accommodation for those who are homeless.
The Simon Communities also called on the Government to make clear commitments regarding funding across all key departments with responsibility for addressing homelessness.
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities said that this would require an increase in funding to meet growing demand.
“One of the findings of this research is that cut backs mean there is a risk we do not offer the depth and range of services necessary for people who are homeless to meet their housing and support needs. It is essential that the Government reappraises the upfront investment required to generate the flow of accommodation that along with adequate support would enable people who have been homeless to access sustainable housing. This is especially important across the main government departments with responsibility for homelessness – Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, the Department of Health/HSE and the Department of Social Protection.”
There are clear concerns expressed throughout this study about the resourcing of supports to help sustain people with a diverse range of needs in their homes. These can be supports:
· To enable someone to move onto a home of their own.
· To address mental health issues or drug and/or alcohol issues.
· To assist with anxiety and confidence building.
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities said that open ended and ongoing support is critical.
“In the Simon Community, our door is always open to anybody who may need us and for as long as they need us. It is vital that people receive the appropriate level of support to assist them in moving out of long term homelessness. Ending homelessness will require more than just housing; those with higher support needs must have the option of accessing support, as necessary. This includes housing support and health and social care support based on need. Cutbacks to funding for health, probation, welfare, education and training services etc, all have knock-on effects that contribute to homelessness. While cuts to frontline staff in statutory bodies are making it more difficult for people to access services with longer waiting times and longer waiting lists. We very much welcome the Government’s policy of a housing led approach but it is impossible for this to work effectively without the adequate support services being put in place.”
‘Which Way Home? –The Experiences of the Simon Communities Introducing Housing-led Services’ is available at http://www.simon.ie/home.aspx
For media queries and interview requests
Helen McCormack, Simon Communities of Ireland
Tel: 01 47 27 202/ 085 8065141
About Simon Community:
The Simon Communities in Ireland are a network of eight regionally based independent Simon Communities based in Cork, Dublin, Dundalk, Galway, the Midlands, the Mid West, the North West and the South East that share common values and ethos in tackling all forms of homelessness throughout Ireland, supported by a National Office. The Simon Communities have been providing services in Ireland for over 40 years.
Whatever the issue, for as long as we are needed, Simon’s door is always open.
For more information please log on to www.simon.ie.
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.
About the event
This event is being hosted by South East Simon Community, who provide supports and services to people homeless and at risk of homelessness in Waterford, Wexford, South Tipperary, Kilkenny and Carlow. 2014 marks 10 years of service delivery in the South East.
Date: Thursday, July 10th 2014
Time: 10.15am – 12.00pm
Venue: The Large Room, City Hall, Waterford
About the Research
As a follow up to our Finding the Way Home research and 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 experiences of the Simon Communities introducing housing-led services. The research was undertaken by Mark Bevan with Nicholas Pleace of the Centre for Housing Policy in York University and was designed to help inform and critically assess the use of housing-led services as a response to homelessness at both a national and local level.
The recommendations focus on the following areas:
· Adequate and affordable housing supply.
· Open ended support.
· National and local structures.
· Joint working.
· Recommendations internal to the Simon Communities
Dr Mark Bevan
Mark is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Housing Policy, University of York which is one of Europes leading centres for housing and social policy research. Since 1994 Mark has worked on a number of projects that have examined the housing and support needs of a range of vulnerable groups, including homeless people. Projects on homelessness have included an evaluation of the Rough Sleepers Initiative in Scotland; service models that address rural homelessness, and a longitudinal evaluation of Shelter’s service for prisoners leaving HMP Leeds. In addition to research on homelessness, key research interests include housing and support in later life, rural housing and fuel poverty.