31st January: The Simon Communities of Ireland have said that while any decrease in the number of homeless people is to be welcomed, it is troubling that 9,753 people were forced to spend Christmas without secure accommodation of their own.
The organisation said it was encouraging to see a decrease of 111 homeless families compared to November, noting that this was likely due to the time of year. The rise in homeless single adults over the last two months is attributed to the increase of emergency accommodation during the winter period. The latest figures from the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government report:
• 9,753 men, women and children are now in emergency accommodation, an overall increase of 13.5% from since December 2017, when the figure was 8,587.
• 1,617 families are living in emergency accommodation, an increase of 15% since December 2017, when the figure was 1,408 families.
• 3,559 children are stuck in emergency accommodation, an increase of 15.5% when compared with December 2017, when the figure was 3,079 children.
The final instalment of emergency accommodation figures for 2018 ended a year in which the number of people accessing emergency accommodation jumped by 649 since January. Paul Sheehan, Spokesperson for the Simon Communities, says the figures are still far too high, and represent the unfortunate reality of the current housing and homelessness crisis.
“At least 9,753 people in Ireland entered 2019 with no proper place to call home, including 3,559 children. These people are often trying to go about their regular lives in extremely stressful and trying circumstances. Sadly, these numbers don’t even reflect the full picture. Rough sleepers or those in squats, women and children in refuges, those in direct provision and the ‘hidden homeless’ - those staying with family or friends as they have nowhere else to go – are not counted.
These numbers underline the fact that there was a consistent upward trend in the number of people forced in emergency accommodation throughout 2018. We know that many people end up in this situation because they have been forced out of the private rental sector. In order to prevent homelessness, tenants must have stronger security of tenure. Without an accessible private rental sector or adequate social housing, people have nowhere to go if they cannot afford to rent, and this contributed to the rise in numbers in emergency accommodation throughout 2018. We do not want 2019 to be a continuation of this trend. There must be a collective focus on developing solutions to end this housing crisis once and for all.
All initiatives aimed at resolving this crisis should be seriously considered. As such, the Simon Communities of Ireland urge the implementation of many of the proposals included in the new Residential Tenancies Bill 2018 currently under consideration in the Dáil. In particular, the proposals to address many of the loopholes in the existing bill around tenants’ security of tenure and minimum standards in rented accommodation could potentially make a huge difference to the lives of those who currently live with a lack of secure housing. For a sustainable long-term solution however, it’s vital that the State, in conjunction with Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies, build and invest in social and affordable housing across all tenure types nationwide.”
In 2017, the Simon Communities of Ireland delivered support, housing, homeless and treatment services to over 13,000 people and families at risk or experiencing homelessness.
For media queries and interview requests
Communications and Campaigns Officer,
Simon Communities of Ireland.
Tel: 085 806 5141
About Simon Communities
The Simon Communities support over 13,000 men, women and children. We have 50 years of experience providing homeless, housing and treatment services to people facing the trauma and stress of homelessness. We are a network of independent Communities based in Cork, Dublin, Dundalk, Galway, the Midlands, the Mid West, the North West and the South East, responding to local needs and supported by a National Office in the areas of policy, research, communications and best practice. We share common values and ethos in tackling homelessness and, informed by our grassroots services, we campaign for more effective policies and legislation regionally, nationally and at European level. Whatever the issue, Simon’s door is always open for as long as we are needed. For more information, please visit www.simon.ie.
· Homelessness prevention, tenancy sustainment and resettlement.
· Street outreach, emergency accommodation and harm reduction.
· Housing with support and Housing First services.
· Homeless specific health and wellbeing services (counselling; addiction treatment and recovery; and mental health supports).
· Personal development, education, training and employment services.
· Food banks, drop-in centres and soup runs.