9th Dec 2014 - The Simon Communities have today broadly welcomed Minister Alan Kelly’s ‘Homelessness Action Plan’ which aims to address the homelessness emergency facing the country.
The homelessness charity however caution that emergency measures should not become long term solutions to homelessness.
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities said about the Ministers announcement “We welcome the announcement today to deal with the homelessness emergency, as immediate action is critical to prevent another tragedy on our streets and growing numbers becoming homelessness. We also welcome the spirit of partnership in which Ministers Kelly and Coffey engaged in throughout this process. Today’s proactive announcement is only part of a solution towards ending the homelessness emergency that has gripped the entire country. In order to end the homelessness crisis facing the country effectively, Government must ensure that:
· Emergency accommodation is only used in the short term and that the ultimate goal is long term homes with support,
· Measures have a countrywide focus,
· People are prevented from becoming homeless especially those currently losing their rented homes due to inadequate rent supplement payments.
Some of the welcome measures announced in the Government’s 20 point Action Plan today include 260 additional emergency beds in Dublin by Christmas; a Nite Café to provide a contact point for people who do not want to be placed on emergency provision and a ‘Stay in Your Home’ prevention campaign in Dublin with extension to Cork in January although we note other areas may also benefit from such an initiative. In addition, the Minister will be issuing ‘ministerial direction’ to the four Dublin Local Authorities to allocate 50% of all housing allocations to homeless households and other vulnerable groups for the next 6 months having regard for time spent on the homeless and other housing lists by December 1st 2014. The Minister also plans to engage with financial institutions to explore what measures can be taken in relation to encumbered 'buy to let' properties and those properties currently in receivership.
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities said about ending homelessness and rough sleeping:
“While we welcome the announcement today to deal with the homelessness emergency, it is essential that we do not lose sight of the ultimate goal which is to ensure that people who are homeless have access to long term homes with the right support. This is the commitment that the Government has already given to end long-term homelessness and rough sleeping by 2016. The fact that we have an ongoing housing crisis must not be forgotten. Many of the measures announced today should be time limited and clearly outlined as temporary measures to deal with the homeless emergency. These emergency beds must then be replaced by an offer of housing and not a return to the streets. The last thing we need are greater numbers of people trapped long term in emergency accommodation with no opportunity to move on to homes where they can begin to leave homelessness behind. Currently over 2, 500 people and 800 children are in emergency accommodation.”
“As a national organisation, we are concerned about ensuring there is a regional focus and we look forward to more information on this. It would be a mistake to see homelessness and housing insecurity as a predominantly urban problem. Yes, it can be more acute and visible in our cities but the Simon Communities are working at capacity all around the country – in urban and rural areas - addressing the housing and homeless crisis. The current homelessness emergency is affecting people right across the country - families, single people, young people, older people, and people with severe health problems, people battling drug and alcohol issues, people this state has failed from a young age. It is critical that we have national (countrywide) responses which are nationally driven but locally delivered to ensure people can remain in their communities where they have family and support networks. In fact, these are often the times this is most important.”
“Prevention is absolutely key right now with more and more people becoming homeless every day, especially those being pushed out of their homes around the country due to inadequate rent supplement payment which are just too low amidst rapidly rising rents. It is impossible to find accommodation within supplement limits. This is both pushing people into homelessness and preventing people from leaving homelessness so it is disappointing that there are no measures to address these limits today. The lack of available social housing is further compounding the situation, there are currently 90, 000 people on the housing waiting list and new social housing plans will take 18 months to 2 years begin to deliver. This will all take too long – too long for people trapped in emergency accommodation, too long for people sleeping on our streets and too long for those living on the edge day to day.”
Just last week, Simon submitted a 10 Point Plant to Government Ministers, TD’s and Senators, outlining a list of items that must be prioritised immediately by Government if they are serious about ending long term homelessness by 2016. The organisation also submitted a regional analysis of the current demands on services and actions required. The organisation believes that if their suggested measures are implemented and prioritised, then the Government’s goal remains achievable.
Download Simon Communities 10 Point Plan to Government here
The Simon Communities deliver support and service to over 6000 people and families who experience - or are at risk of - homelessness on an annual basis.
For media queries and interview requests:
Roisin McCarthy, Simon Communities of Ireland
085 806 5141
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.