The Simon Communities of Ireland is an affiliation of local Communities in Cork, Dublin, Dundalk, Galway, the Midlands, the South East, the North West and the Mid West. Simon delivered support and services to almost 5,000 individuals and families who experienced – or were at risk of – homelessness in 2007. In addition, the National Office performs a coordinating role in terms of campaigning in the areas of housing/homeless policy and the wider poverty and social inclusion agenda; best practice in service delivery and working with people who are homeless; and in the area of full time volunteering promoting excellence and providing accredited training.
We, in the Simon Communities of Ireland, are acutely aware of the pressures the current fiscal crisis and the fact that difficult decisions must be made as part of the ‘Supplementary Budget 2009’. However, we highlight a number of issues based on our knowledge and experience in working with people who are homeless and at risk of homelessness across Ireland for almost four decades. It must be acknowledged that in this economic climate the risk factors for homelessness are in fact on the increase in Ireland. It is critical that there is no regression in gains that have been made in recent years in the area of homelessness and housing exclusion. In this brief submission we reiterate the necessity of achieving the objectives of ending the need to sleep rough and long term homelessness by 2010. This vision is shared by both the Simon Communities of Ireland and the Government and has been restated in the new Homeless Strategy – The Way Home (Aug 2008). Furthermore, it is important to emphasise that homelessness is about more than housing; it is also about physical and mental health, drug and alcohol use and complex needs.