Pressure on Simon Communities homeless services continues to grow as they call for countrywide action to prevent further tragedies
18/12/14: The Simon Communities of Ireland today launched their Annual Report for 2013 and the charity reported a substantial increase of 41% in the number of people seeking help from their services since 2011. The Simon Communities services are stretched to the limit supporting more than 6,000 people who are experiencing homelessness across the country every single day. Simon is calling on the Government to ensure that their plans for tackling the homelessness crisis are countrywide and offer long term solutions.
The Annual Report was launched today by Minister Alan Kelly TD, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities in Ireland described the latest figures as deeply concerning and said:
“This 41% increase in people turning to our services is a worrying indication of the depth of the homeless crisis. We welcome the Minister’s work and attention on the issue over the last number of weeks, and while we welcome the Dublin specific actions announced by the Minister, we urgently need countrywide commitments that are nationally driven but locally delivered. This homeless situation has rapidly moved from a crisis to an emergency; we must be absolutely certain that emergency measures do not become long term solutions. Homelessness and rough sleeping continue to grow, the official rough sleeper count in Dublin recorded 168 people rough sleeping; the highest figure ever recorded. There has been an unprecedented four-fold increase in rough sleeping figures in Cork. Let’s make no mistake; this crisis is a national emergency affecting urban and rural areas.”
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities in Ireland made the following appeal to the Minister:
“We call for immediate action all around the country to prevent further tragedies on our streets and an increase in homelessness. We call for full implementation of the 20 Point Action Plan announced last week. These emergency actions are only part of a solution towards ending 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. The Government has committed to ending long-term homelessness and rough sleeping by 2016. The fact that we have an ongoing housing crisis must not be forgotten. Many of the recent measures should be identified as being time limited, temporary measures to deal with the homeless emergency right now, but 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. Currently, over 2, 500 people and 800 children are in emergency accommodation.”
Key statistics from the annual report include:
- 1,182 people accessed Simon Communities emergency accommodation in four regions over the year.
- Rough Sleeper teams in Cork and Dublin engaged in 6,165 contacts.
- 1,830 people availed of daytime support, advice, information and referral services.
- 1,243 people were supported in housing across the country including Simon housing, social housing and private rented housing with support appropriate to their needs.
- 1,828 people accessed specialist treatment and support services including health care, drugs counselling and community alcohol detoxification.
Speaking about the current housing crisis Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities in Ireland said:
“With the services of the Simon Communities around the country stretched to the limit it is critical that we prevent more people from becoming homeless. If rent supplement levels remain capped at current levels while the pressure on the private rented market continues, our fear is that more vulnerable people will be priced out of the market and out of their homes. It is currently impossible to find accommodation within rent supplement limits. Not only are people being pushed over the edge into homelessness but people are being prevented from leaving homelessness. We urgently need an increase in rent supplement and rent certainty for tenants. The severe shortage of social housing is further compounding the problem; there are currently 90, 000 people on the housing waiting list and new social housing plans will take 18 months to 2 years before they begin to deliver. This is just too long for the people using our services, for those trapped in what should be short-term emergency accommodation and for those sleeping on our streets night after night.”
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities commenting on the 2016 target said:
“The current housing shortage is impeding progress on a housing-led approach to ending homelessness and unless addressed urgently, will result in the Government failing to achieve their target of ending long term homelessness and rough sleeping by 2016. It is unacceptable, as a society, to say that people who are homeless must pay the price of austerity. Anyone can find themselves homeless for a wide range of reasons; a job loss, health diagnosis, bereavement, mental health issues or a family problem. There may be signs of economic recovery but it is a two-tier recovery where those who are the most vulnerable are being left behind. Following recent events, we must question ourselves as a society about how we work with, support and protect the dignity and the rights of those who are most vulnerable and those most in need. We must get this right. People who are homeless can wait no longer. We in the Simon Communities believe that the Government’s 2016 commitment, although challenging, is one that can and must be achieved. It is critical that local and national politicians have the support, strength and political will to follow through on what are sometimes tough decisions. We continue to offer our support and assistance based on our experience working with people who are homeless across the country for over forty years. We are so grateful for the kindness and generosity of people all around Ireland who enable us to continue delivering vital services each and every year. Their support and goodwill is a lifeline for organisations like the Simon Communities and for the thousands of people who use our services.”
For media queries and interview requests
Roisin McCarthy, Simon Communities of Ireland
Tel: 01 472 7204/ 085 806 5141 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
The report will be launched on Thursday December 18th at 10.30am at Dublin Simon Community, Hazelwood House, Canal Rd, Dublin 6.
Highlights from the Annual Report 2013 include:
· The Simon Communities worked with 6,122 people across the country in 2013; this represents a 17% increase on 2012 and a 41% increase on 2011
· Rough Sleeper teams in Cork and Dublin engaged in 6,165 contacts
· 1,182 people accessed Simon Communities emergency accommodation in four regions.
· 1,830 people availed of Simon Communities Daytime Support, Advice, Information and Referral services
· 1,243 people were supported in housing across the country including Simon housing, social housing and private rented housing with support appropriate to their needs.
· 1,828 people accessed Specialist Treatment and Support Services including health care, drugs counselling and community alcohol detoxification.
· 305 people accessed Education, Training and Employment Services provided directly by the Simon Communities.
· 2,500 volunteers supported the work of the Simon Communities in 2013 working across a range of services from soup runs to working in emergency accommodation, and assisting with events and fundraising activities.
About Simon Communities
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.
 Dublin is the only region where an official rough sleeper count is undertaken