Expanding diversion access to the Garda Diversion Programme for over 18’s in an important step and the Simon Communities of Ireland welcome this progress within the Department of Justice. Youth is a time of self-discovery, growth, and development. Experiences of homelessness or living in insecure housing can have a damaging effect during this critical time in life. As vulnerable young people transition from adolescence into adulthood, we need to ensure that housing is a priority. Diversions from the criminal justice system can only be possible if there are adequate and accessible secure housing options for vulnerable young people.
This submission provides an overview of youth homelessness and the effects of homelessness on young people. Following from this are policy recommendations aimed to support two cohorts of young people: (i) young people coming out of prison and (ii) young people in homelessness who may be at risk of offending and who can be diverted from the criminal justice system. As well as housing options, the Simon Community call for a trauma informed approach and coordination between governmental departments and agencies.