The Simon Communities today launched their Election Manifesto, ‘Changing the Forecast: Addressing the Homeless and Housing Crisis, outlining the priorities for the next government if they are to effectively address the housing and homeless crisis as a matter of urgency. The Simon Communities are asking for the public’s support in the forthcoming general election by raising the housing crisis with their local candidates. The charity said that the housing and homeless crisis has continued to worsen over the lifetime of the current Government, and will continue unabated without urgent action.
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities
, said that it is clear housing is one of the major issues of the campaign.
‘Housing supply is the biggest challenge we are facing right now. People do not have access to appropriate, affordable housing. This is impacting every region and community around the country. Many people are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. In the absence of a sufficient social housing supply and as rents continue to increase more people are ending up at risk of homelessness. Access to affordable housing with support is the only way we can end the current homeless crisis. We in the Simon Communities are very grateful for the support that people have shown us throughout the years, now we are urging them to join with us to make housing and homelessness a general election issue by asking candidates what they will do to address the housing and homeless crisis.’
The Simon Communities also highlighted, in their Election Manifesto, some of the changes needed to effectively address the crisis. Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities outlined Simon’s solutions.
‘We are calling for immediate action on four fronts – comprehensive prevention and early intervention to prevent homelessness; rapid rehousing using a housing first approach so people are not trapped in emergency accommodation; access to affordable housing for all; and adequate support for people once they are 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 – they are unchanged since June 2013, yet in the following two years, prices in the private rented sector increased by over 20%. The vast majority of private rented properties on the market - 95%, are beyond the reach of people who are in receipt of state support. There are at least 90,000 people on the social housing waiting list and by the end of quarter 3 2015, Local Authorities had built just 28 homes. For the State to say to people that there is no prospect of getting a home any time soon is just not good enough – it’s scandalous. People need homes now.’
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities
said that the next Government must make tackling the housing and homeless crisis top of their agenda.
‘Now is the time when we are hearing lots of election commitments and promises. These commitments must translate into meaningful action once the new government is in place. This means action to ensure that Local Authorities begin to build and deliver social housing on the scale required; action to ensure there is a plan for the Private Rented sector to give greater stability and security of tenure; action to prevent more people becoming homeless; and action to support those trapped in emergency accommodation to move into homes of their own with the support they need as quickly as possible. The new Government must act immediately and prioritise homelessness and housing. They must ensure that the commitment set out in the Homelessness Policy Statement of 2013 of ending long term homelessness and rough sleeping using a Housing First approach becomes a reality, providing people with permanent homes with support. This will take political will, a whole of Government commitment and a firm belief that everyone is entitled to a safe and secure home.’
The Simon Communities deliver support and service to over 7,500 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
Homelessness - the numbers
• There are currently 5,324 men, women and children in emergency homeless accommodation nationally, 3,615 adults and 813 families with 1,709 children (DECLG, November 2015)
• During one night in November 2015, there were 152 people without a safe place to sleep in Dublin City. This included 91 people sleeping rough and 61 people sheltering at the Nite Café (DRHE 2015). Unfortunately, Dublin is the only area where an official rough sleeper count takes place, making it difficult to get a countrywide rough sleeping picture. Figures from Cork Simon Community indicate that rough sleeping in Cork City increased seven-fold in three years (2011-2014).
• In December 2015 the Simon Communities reported a 20% increase in the numbers of individuals and families around the country turning to our services for help.
• Locked Out of the Market III (Simon Communities Study) found that 95% of rental properties are beyond the reach for those in receipt of state housing support. Of all the properties available to rent in the eleven regions studied, only one was available for a single person (Jan 2016) see http://www.simon.ie/Publications/Research.aspx
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 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.