The Simon Communities in Ireland attended a meeting called by Minister Alan Kelly and Paudie Coffey on homelessness and preparing for winter. The homelessness and housing charity said they welcomed the opportunity to meet and have these discussions with the Ministers but that there is no getting away from the fact that homelessness has grown substantially worse since the Emergency Homeless Summit of last December and the announcement of the 20 Point Action Plan was announced.
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities in Ireland
“The number of people in emergency accommodation has increased; there are 81% more families, 78% more children and 20% more adults stuck in hotels or hostels or B&B’s around the country since last Christmas. Many more ‘hidden homeless’ people are sleeping rough, staying with friends or relatives and in squats and thousands more are at risk. That is no way for men, women and children to live.”
“While we welcome that there are Cold Weather Initiative Plans in place in some parts of the country discussed today, we are facing into a very tough winter. We urgently need to move away from emergency led responses, we can’t just keep offering people short term solutions with little attention paid to their longer term needs. The solutions to this crisis are preventing people from becoming homeless and providing access to affordable, permanent housing with support – a Housing First approach. This is the approach the Government committed to in 2013 but implementation to date is poor. No one Government department or Ministry can solve this, it requires the support of the whole of Cabinet and also cross party support to priorities the issue.”
“We welcome the news that ministerial direction to Local Authorities to prioritise tenancies for vulnerable households, including homeless households at 50% in Dublin and 30% in Galway, Cork, Waterford and Limerick, have been extended to January 2016. We await feedback on the success of this initiative to date. We remain very concerned about the future outlook for people who are homeless and at risk as enough is just not being done.”
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities in Ireland said pressure continues to grow in the private rented sector where properties available to rent are at an all time low.
“We cautiously welcomed the recent news that there is to be some degree of rent certainty for tenants and landlords. We are now calling on the Government to ensure quick introduction of the legislative changes needed to allow for biannual rent increase so as to prevent a massive rent hike on foot of the announcements. We are anxiously awaiting a date for this. However we firmly believe that full recent certainty with rents linked to an index like the Consumers Price Index (CPI) and an increase in rent supplement limits is one of the only ways to prevent further homelessness. ”
The Simon Communities also said that they were concerned that the Social Housing Strategy was moving too slowly.
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities in Ireland said:
“The Strategy commits to housing 32,000 households by 2017 and yet to date in 2015 the house builds and acquisitions reported by the Department of Environment. Community and Local Government is 403. Of these only 20 were Local Authority builds. This is at a time when many people are being priced out of the private rental sector, which not only puts people at risk of homelessness but also prevents people from moving out of homelessness. We would have serious concerns about the capacity of private rented sector to deliver on this.”
“As a national organisation, we remain concerned about ensuring there is sufficient regional focus on solving homelessness and housing insecurity. Yes, homelessness can be more acute and visible in our cities but the Simon Communities are working at capacity right around the country to address the crisis. It is vital that we have national responses which are nationally driven but locally delivered to ensure that people can remain in their communities where they have family and support networks. These are the times when that is most important.”
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.
For media queries and interview requests
Helen McCormack, Simon Communities of Ireland
Tel: 01 47 27 202/ 085 806 5141
Homelessness - the numbers
• There are currently 5000 men, women and children in emergency homeless accommodation nationally, 738 families with 1,571 children, and 2448 single people. (DECLG, September 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.