Simon Communities: It is crucial that a very necessary spotlight is kept on one of the most vulnerable groups in society in what is a very challenging time for us all.
Simon Communities welcoming the initiatives announced to protect homeowners and renters by Minister Paschal Donohoe echoed the concerns highlighted by the European Federation of Homeless Service providers (FEANTSA) and UN rapporteur on housing, Leilani Farha in separate statements issued today.
The national spokesperson for the Simon Communities of Ireland Wayne Stanley said:
“We have been in contact with colleagues across Europe that are working with their local authorities and health care services to protect those experiencing homelessness. This is a pan-European effort and we would encourage the European institutions to support them.
In Ireland the collaboration between local authorities and the HSE with NGO’s like the Simon Communities have been significant and productive. We are stretched but coping in this early phase of the crisis, however we have to continue to plan for the ‘storm’ that we all know is coming.
In the mitigation phase the risk of becoming ill will grow exponentially and at this point we will have to make immense efforts to reduce the number of people in shared settings. Ms Farha is correct when she says that housing is ‘the front line defence against the coronavirus.’ To protect the most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness, local authorities will have to get access to available accommodations, including holiday homes and lettings such as Airbnb. We would call on any members of the public who can provide access to these kinds of properties, particularly those who have multiple units in single blocks, in our urban areas to support the efforts of their local authorities for the period of the crisis. They could literally save lives.”
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The Simon Communities support over 16,700 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 an