The Simon Communities in Ireland have launched a campaign asking for the public’s support in urging the Government to put the homeless and housing crisis at the top of the Cabinet agenda. The charity said that the Government response to the current situation is inadequate. The Simon Communities also launched their Pre Budget Submission, ‘Changing the forecast – addressing the homeless and housing crisis.’
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities, speaking about the Homeless Forecast campaign, expressed concern that the Government were not addressing the crisis with the measures and urgency it needs.
“People who are homeless are being failed time and time again by the state. It is unacceptable to expect people in emergency shelters or sleeping rough now to wait two years to have a place to call home. People need homes now. The Simon Communities are working to change the outlook for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. But to do so significant and urgent Government action is required. This crisis requires a whole of Government response – it is not possible for one Minister or one Government department to do this alone. Our campaign, www.simonhomelessforecast.ie, urges people to send a letter to An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Joan Burton demanding that they to bring this critical situation to the top of the Government’s agenda. They have the power to make the changes needed. Urgent action must be taken because the future for people who are homeless in this country is very bleak.”
The Simon Communities also highlighted, in their Pre Budget Submission, some of the changes needed to effectively address the homeless and housing crisis Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities said that this is an emergency situation.
"Budget 2016 is a critical budget for this Government. It is a budget where the Government must act now on their commitment to end long-term homelessness and the need to sleep rough. We are calling for immediate action on four fronts – homeless prevention and early intervention; rapid rehousing using a housing first approach; access to affordable housing; and adequate support for people once in housing.”
“The Simon Communities see the devastating impact of rising rents and reduced housing supply everyday - people on low incomes and those in receipt of rent supplement can no longer afford rental payments. Private rented supply is at the lowest level in a decade. Rent supplement levels must be increased, along with the introduction of rent certainty measures for tenants. Rent supplement levels have remained unchanged since June 2013, yet in the following two years, prices in the private rented sector increased by 20.3pc. To prevent more people from becoming homeless, we must address large rent increases that people have had to deal with this year and face the possibility of the same next year. People who are struggling to keep a roof over their heads are being excluded from the private rented sector and prevented from competing in the open market in a fair manner. There are 90,000 people on the social housing waiting list and Government social housing commitments, if on target, will only meet the housing needs of 17% of them. For the State to say to people that there is no prospect of getting a home any time soon is just not good enough. People need homes now and people need action now.”
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities said that the solution to homelessness is about housing but it’s also about support in housing.
“Emergency accommodation is not the answer to homelessness. It is a temporary response. People are currently ending up staying in shelters for far too long. This needs to change. Recent cutbacks to funding for housing support, for health services, probation and social protection services, education and training services etc., have all contributed to the current crisis. We must support people to stay in the homes that they have and provide homes for those stuck in emergency accommodation. This requires access to affordable housing, to social protection supports and other support services e.g. healthcare, mental health services and drug and alcohol treatment etc. The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, the Department of Social Protection, the HSE, and the Department of Finance all have a vital role to play.”
“We know from experience that the solution to long-term homelessness is making sure people can find a home as quickly as possible, and that they have all the support services they need to stay in that home. This Housing First approach is working in Simon Communities all around the country.”
The Simon Communities deliver support and service to over 6,000 people and families who experience - or are at risk of - homelessness on an annual basis.
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About the Campaign
As part of our Simon Week activities we are running our Homeless Forecast Campaign, where we are asking everyone to sign our letter to An Taoiseach and An Tanaiste urging them to bring the homeless and housing crisis to the top of the Cabinet’s agenda. We are also asking people to share our video with their friends and family to increase awareness of the crisis and need for action.
Ireland is in the grip of a housing and homelessness crisis.
Every day men, women and children have no place to call home. Thousands live in emergency accommodation nationwide and many hundreds more sleep rough or rely on the kindness of family and friends. We need to act now to ensure people who are homeless and those at risk have a roof over their heads. We need to change this grim forecast for the better.
Log on to www.simonhomelessforecast.ie and view our Homeless Forecast with TV3 presenter, Martin King.
Homelessness - the numbers
• There are currently 3,285 adults in emergency homeless accommodation nationally, 657 families and 1,383 children. (DECLG, July 2015)
• During one night in March 2015, there were 151 people without a safe place to sleep in Dublin City. This included 105 people sleeping rough and 46 people sheltering at the Nite Café. Unfortunately, Dublin is the only area where an official rough sleeper count takes place, making it difficult to get a countrywide rough sleeping picture. (DRHE 2015) Figures from Cork Simon Community indicate that rough sleeping in Cork City increased seven-fold in three years (2011-2014).
• In December 291 extra emergency beds were made available (Dublin and Cork), they are all or almost all are in use, (beds in Cork winding down since March 31st).
• In December the Simon Communities reported a 41% increase in the numbers of individuals and families around the country turning to our services for help over a two year period.
• Rent in the private rented sector increased by 20.3% from Jul 2013 –Jul 2015 (daft.ie).
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. The Simon Communities deliver support and service to over 6,000 individuals and families throughout Ireland who experience – or are at risk of – homelessness every year. 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.