20th May 2014 – The Simon Communities in Ireland are calling on the Cabinet to take action and fully support the Implementation Plan on the State’s Response to Homelessness, which comes before the Cabinet today.
The plan outlines the state’s plan to achieve the national objective of ending long-term homelessness by 2016. It addresses the recommendations contained in the Homelessness Oversight Group's First Report and identifies the necessary steps to deliver these recommendations.
The Simon Communities believe that the sending of the report to Cabinet is an important step in addressing the housing and homelessness crisis.
Niamh Randall, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities, said that more and more people are turning to the Simon Communities across the country for support.
“There are now over 90,000 people on the social housing waiting lists; rents are rapidly increasing all around the country at the same time as the numbers of properties available to rent are decreasing. People on low incomes are effectively being priced out of the market. It is the responsibility of the Government to ensure people in need have access to housing so they do not become homeless in the first place and so they can move out of homelessness, when it does happen, as quickly as possible.”
“We have worked closely with Minister Jan O’Sullivan and there is no doubting her commitment to this issue but this is something that needs the support of all of the Cabinet. The crucial next step is for the whole of Government to back the Minister’s work and ensure her department has the essential resources to carry out this plan. The critical Government Departments are the Departments of the Environment; of Social Protection and of Health (HSE) but the Department of Finance and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform must also row in behind this plan if it is to be a success. We can and do provide support to over 5000 people and families currently homeless or at risk of homelessness. However, Simon is well beyond the point of doing more with less.”
“We welcome the proposed Social Housing Strategy due out later this year but we are calling for it to be fast tracked in light of the current high numbers of people in housing crisis. It is also essential that there are resources attached to this plan to ensure that it can deliver the much needed units urgently. Ring fencing of a portion of all social housing units for people moving out of homelessness is a must."
The Simon Communities particularly welcomed the proposal to establish a Social Housing Rental Service (SHRS) as a single point of contact for landlords, people who are homeless and local authorities; however the charity said that this should be a nationwide, not a Dublin only, initiative.
Niamh Randall said that although the problem of homelessness is most visible in Dublin, it is escalating right across the country.
“We know that Simon Communities right across the country are seeing a growth in demand for their services. Last year we reported a rise of 24% of people using the services of the Simon Communities. Last week’s Daft report showed that rents had increased by 6% in Cork, 5.6% in Galway and 5.4% in Limerick. It is essential that responses to this growing crisis are nationwide.”
For media queries and interview requests
Helen McCormack, Simon Communities of Ireland
Tel: 01 47 27 202/ 085 8065141
About Simon Community:
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.
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.