Believe In People

Media Releases 2014

Simon Communities call for Government to prioritise Homelessness and Housing in Budget 2015

The homelessness and housing charity issue their Pre Budget Submission 2015 ‘Making the Right Choices’

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Simon Communities in Ireland today issued their Pre Budget Submission 2015, ‘Making the Right Choices’.

Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities said if the Government were to fulfill their commitment to end long term homelessness by 2016 they must increase housing and that it must be the right kind of housing. A proportion of all social housing allocations must be ring-fenced for people moving out of homelessness.

“People who are homeless have the most acute form of social housing need and must be prioritised. There is a rise in demand for homelessness services; the Simon Communities most recent annual report highlighted a 24% increase in demand for our services.  The Department of Environment’s budget must be increased to cope with the rise in demand. The Departments of Health and Social Protection must, at the very least, have their budgets restored to 2013 levels so people can get the supports they urgently need. ”

The charity also called for an immediate increase in Rent Supplement levels and said that they must be brought into line with real market rents without delay.

Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities, said it is clear that the current Rent supplement levels do not meet the rent payments requested of many people around the country. 

“Rent Supplement levels are now well below the asking price for rents in many areas and particularly for housing of acceptable quality in areas where there are sufficient support and services for people to access. The issues surrounding Rent Supplement are affecting people in our cities, in urban areas and in rural Ireland.”

Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities, continued that it is not acceptable or fair that single people are being effectively penalised when they attempt to access housing. It is vital that single people are not discriminated against in terms of access to housing.

“Couples and single people are competing for the same number of small properties but because couples receive a higher rate of Rent Supplement, they are at an obvious advantage. The number of one bedroom housing units is very limited, which further restricts single people’s ability to secure appropriate housing. The majority of people who are homeless that the Simon Communities support are single.” 

“On the rare occasion where a landlord will accept Rent Supplement it is almost impossible to find a one-bedroom flat that falls within the supplement limits.  In South Tipperary, for example, Rent Allowance for a single person is currently €370; however the rent of a one-bedroom flat is around €400-€450.  

For a single person in Limerick the Rent Supplement limit is €375, however the rent for a one-bedroom flat starts from €450.  In Sligo town rents for a one-bedroom flat are €100 to €200 above the Rent Supplement limits of €400 for a single person. Many of the flats advertised recently stipulate that Rent Allowance will not be accepted.  In some areas a small number of letting agencies have a monopoly on lettings and are not willing to give people using Simon services an opportunity to view.”

The Simon Communities were also critical of the administration of the current rent supplement scheme.

Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson, said that it is causing problems for potential tenants and landlords alike.

“Landlords are reluctant to accept Rent Supplement because of delays in processing applications, poor communication or lack of clarity in relation to Department of Social Protection decisions, and because of a perception that Supplements will be cut year-on-year, forcing landlords to drop their rents.  One tenant’s Rent Supplement application recently took seven months to process.  We know of cases where tenants are not notified of the Department of Social Protection’s cancellation of their Rent Supplement until informed by their landlord that they have accrued rent arrears because of the cancellation.  Most landlords require a deposit and one month’s rent in advance, a sum of money that many people using Simon services have difficulty in raising. The odds are clearly stacked against people who are homeless.”

The Simon Communities said that as demand for housing increases tighter legislation is needed to protect those who depend on the private rental sector for a decent standard of living. 

Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities concluded by saying that rent controls to be applied as a matter of urgency.

“People depending on the private rented sector for their housing must be protected from extreme rent increases.  The introduction of rent controls would offer people a degree of rent certainty and will help prevent people from becoming homeless.” 

For media queries and interview requests 
Helen McCormack, Simon Communities of Ireland
Tel: 01 47 27 202/ 085 8065141 

To read our full Pre Budget Submission ‘Making the Right Choices’ visit 

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.

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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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