The Simon Communities have today brought together experts to discuss the housing and homeless crisis and to propose some immediate solutions. The charity said that the response from Government to date is failing badly. They said it was clear the Government would not meet their commitment to end long term homelessness and rough sleeping by 2016. Instead, the country is facing into an emergency situation.
The event will be officially opened by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin, TD and will be chaired by broadcaster Matt Cooper, speakers include:
John Fitzgerald (ESRI), Michelle Norris (Social Housing, UCD), Noeline Blackwell (Free Legal Advice Centre), Karl Deeter (Irish Mortgage Brokers), Dermot Bannon (Dermot Bannon Architects) and Aidan Culhane (WK Nowlan). The keynote speaker is Mark McPherson from Homeless Link UK.
Speaking ahead of the crisis forum, Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities, said that the homeless and housing charity hoped today’s conference would produce tangible actions.
‘Today’s event is kicking off the start of Simon Week, which aims to raise awareness of homelessness and the people that we support around the country. At the moment, there are almost 5000 people; 707 families with 1495 children and 2413 single people stuck in emergency accommodation. It’s a crisis and this Government is failing many men, women and children each day that they do not take action on this. The Simon Communities around the country work with over 6000 people annually but we are struggling to continue to meet growing demand. This is a humanitarian crisis and we really need everybody to come together to play their part otherwise the future for people who are homeless and at risk is very bleak. We have invited these speakers, key experts in economics, housing, human rights and social justice, to come together today to look at developing short, medium and long term solutions. We want to add their suggestions and ideas to ours, creating targeted solutions to end this crisis and restore hope and dignity to people who have lost everything.’
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities, said the Government has the power to make the changes needed to address this crisis:
‘We also need to Government to play their part in addressing the growing numbers of people homeless, those at risk and those in housing distress. They have the power to make the changes needed which include short, medium and long term measures. Today we are calling for immediate action on five fronts, at the very minimum:
• An increase in rent supplement, alongside rent certainty measures. The current levels of rent supplement set in June 2013 are directly causing people to become homeless. Rents have increased nationally by 20.3% in this two year period.
• Better use must be made of existing empty state properties and empty local authority homes, whether these are void or derelict the maintenance work required must be undertaken as a matter of urgency to house people.
• Enhanced prevention and early intervention responses, we need to support people to remain in their homes where possible.
• A commitment to explore and implement new and innovative ideas to help address the crisis as quickly as possible e.g. modular housing. There just is not enough happening at present and what is happening is too slow to keep pace with growing demand. However, emergency measures must only be used as an urgent, short term responses they must be accompanied by longer term plans to prevent temporary measures becoming long term.
• Access to affordable housing with support is the solution to the housing and homeless crisis This so-called Housing First approach works, is cost-effective and transforms people’s lives. Housing First requires access to affordable housing, the shortage of which is the major block at present and is also driving the increasing number of people becoming homeless.”
To read more about what we think needs to be done in the short, medium and long term here in our Pre Budget 2016 Submission http://www.simon.ie/Portals/1/PBS%20Final.pdf
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.
For media queries and interview requests
Tel: 01 671 1606/ 085 806 5141
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 the 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 4868 people in emergency homeless accommodation nationally, 707 families with 1,496 children, and 2413 single people. (DECLG, August 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.