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Media Releases 2014

Simon Communities express disappointment as no Minister appointed to Cabinet table with a named housing brief

The homelessness and housing charity cautioned urgent progress is needed to address the homeless and housing crisis

Friday, July 11, 2014


11th July 2014 – The Simon Communities of Ireland today expressed disappointment that no Minister has been appointed to the Cabinet table with a named housing brief. 

Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities said that they are now urging the Government to appoint a Junior Minister in the coming days.

“The appointment of a Junior Minister with a specific housing brief would be a strong indication of how seriously the Government is taking the homeless and housing crisis. The outgoing Minister Jan O’Sullivan had a ‘housing and planning’ brief and having a seat at the cabinet table as a Super Junior Minister was critical. Homelessness is the most extreme form of social housing need and must be prioritised by the new Cabinet.”

The homeless and housing charity said that they welcome the appointment of the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Minister Alan Kelly at the Department of Environment and Local Government, particularly as he has previously committed to prioritising the ending of long term homelessness in his role as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. They also welcomed the statement from the Tánaiste that housing would be the number one priority for the Department of Environment and Local Government for the duration of the Government’s term in office. 

The Simon Communities paid tribute to the achievements of Jan O’Sullivan TD during her term as Minister of State at the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government with special responsibility for Housing and Planning. The charity noted that Minister O’Sullivan had delivered great progress in making a Housing led approach the Government’s policy. 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. 

The Simon Communities of Ireland firmly believe that this is the best approach, as international evidence shows.  Minister O’Sullivan had secured full Cabinet support for The Implementation Plan on the States Response to Homelessness, approved by Government in May 2014, which outlines 80 actions to address with homelessness and identifies the lead statutory agencies with responsibility.

Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities said that there are a large number of urgently needed reforms that now fall to Minister Alan Kelly to address. 

“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. The supply of adequate, affordable housing remains the key challenge. We urgently need change 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. We are also calling on the Government to make clear commitments regarding funding across all key departments with responsibility for addressing homelessness.”

“As yet we don’t have clarity about where the substance misuse strategy will sit, given its cross cutting across multiple issues of social exclusion we would welcome it being put back under the responsibility of the Department of An Taoiseach. Problem drug and alcohol use cause devastation for individuals, families and communities across Ireland and this should be considered as a single issue portfolio.”  

“It is absolutely crucial that Minister Kelly in his new role maintains the momentum and direction which Minister O’Sullivan has worked so hard to create. We wish him well in his new role. Minister Kelly has a reputation as a dedicated and hard working Minister and we will be urgently seeking a meeting with him.” 

For media queries and interview requests 
Helen McCormack, Simon Communities of Ireland
Tel: 01 47 27 202/ 085 8065141 
E:  communications@simoncommunity.com

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.



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