The Simon Communities of Ireland today launched their Annual Report for 2014, reporting a substantial increase of 20% in the number of people seeking help from their services. The housing and homeless charity are supporting almost 7,500 people who are experiencing homelessness across the country.
The Annual Report was launched today by Kevin Humphreys, T.D., Minister for Employment, Community and Social Support.
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities in Ireland
said that 2015 had been an unprecedented year in terms of the scale of the housing and homeless crisis.
“Looking back on this year, we can see clearly that the homeless and housing crisis has continued largely unchecked. The numbers in emergency accommodation have continued to rise to over 5000 men, women and children, nearly double what they were this time last year. Meanwhile, quarterly data from DAFT.ie and the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) demonstrates that rents are continuing to rise at a time when the number of properties available is decreasing. We heard repeated calls from the National Economic and Social Council for rent regulation and tenancy security. The draft National Risk Assessment Report highlighted the increase in property prices as a threat to the economy and National Competiveness Council specifically mentions high rents, the need for social housing and rising house prices.”
“We in the Simon Communities saw the devastating impact each and every day this year across the country. The impact on men, women and children trying to live their lives in really difficult situations. Growing numbers of people are stuck in emergency accommodation trying to go about daily living; sleeping, eating, playing, doing homework all in the one tiny space. The trauma of this and the stress for those sharing dormitory style accommodation or the guarantee of a bed for only one night can have a long lasting impact.”
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities in Ireland
said 2015 was a year when we heard a lot of commitments about the housing and houseless crisis but we did not see enough action.
“We are dealing with a system that is broken and incapable of responding appropriately as it is currently constructed. What is very clear is that this crisis cannot be solved by one Government Department or Ministry. We need to be able to cut through the red tape and respond quickly to this urgent need. Until we do that, more people will suffer, more people will end up homeless and more people will be trapped in emergency accommodation.”
“This was a year where we heard a lot of commitments about the housing and houseless crisis but we did not see enough action. The much promised social housing is not materialising, to date in 2015 house builds and acquisitions reported by the Department of Environment are 403. Meanwhile, there is a minimum of 90,000 on the social housing waiting list. There are long delays that are difficult to understand given the extent of the crisis. The Rent Stability measures, which are welcome, still fall short of full rent certainty, leaving tenants in the private rental sector vulnerable. There has been an increase in the number of emergency places in the system responding to growing numbers which, although much needed, are not a solution to homelessness.”
“The Government has committed to ending long term homelessness by 2016, using a Housing First approach and this commitment was reiterated in September. We know this approach works, last year 1,704 people were supported in housing across the country by the Simon Communities. With just over two weeks until we ring in the New Year it is very difficult to feel optimistic when looking at the current situation. We need urgent short term measures to ensure that housing is delivered to those who need it most. Despite the many calls and evidence for an increase in Rent Supplement/HAP limits there is still no movement on this by the Department of Social Protection or the Tánaiste Joan Burton. With the recent introduction of rent stability measures, now is the time to raise Rent Supplement limits to help keep people in their homes. We urgently need to move away from emergency led responses to delivering homes for people trapped in emergency accommodation and to prevent more people from becoming homeless. The Department of Health and the Health Service Executive also have a critical role to play in providing the support for people in housing particularly in relation to mental and physical health issues and drug and alcohol use. And this must happen now.”
The Simon Communities are supporting almost 7,500 people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
Please see report here http://www.simon.ie/Portals/1/EasyDNNNewsDocuments/115/Simon%20Community%20Annual%20Report%202014%20Final.pdf
For media queries and interview requests
Tel: 01 671 1606/ 085 806 5141
Key statistics from the annual report include:
• 1,111 people accessed Simon Communities emergency accommodation in four regions over the year.
• 1,704 people were supported in housing across the country with support appropriate to their needs.
• 1,376 people accessed prevention and early intervention services. 2,070 people accessed specialist treatment and support services including health care, counselling and drug/alcohol treatment.
• 1, 766 people accessed education, training and employment services.
• Over 2,300 volunteers supported the work of their local Simon Community
Homelessness - the numbers
• There are currently 5,000 men, women and children in emergency homeless accommodation nationally, 738 families with 1,571 children, and 2,448 single people. (DECLG, September 2015)
• During one night in November 2015, there were 142 people without a safe place to sleep in Dublin City. This included 91people sleeping rough and 51 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).
• 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 45 years. The Simon Communities deliver support and service to almost 7,500 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.