The homelessness and housing organisation said that the report, “Preventing Homelessness: A Review of the International Evidence”, shows that there is a clear need for investment in more social and affordable housing across all tenure types nationwide, as well as integrated preventative homelessness services such as rapid re-housing, Housing First services and physical and mental health support.
The report by Professor Nicholas Pleace, Director of Housing Policy at University of York, reviewed international evidence to find lessons from other countries in developing effective homelessness prevention. The review highlights three essentials for effective homelessness prevention: it must be part of an integrated homelessness strategy; it should be both flexible and connected, adapting to peoples’ needs by working effectively with other services; and it requires a sufficient housing supply in order to work well.
Other key findings in the review point to practical help and support as being vital in preventing homelessness, and a good supply of stable and affordable housing being at the root of any effective response to homelessness. The report also strongly suggests that even where there is sufficient housing supply, people will still need assistance to avoid homelessness and to manage the risks and support needs that can trigger homelessness.
“Preventing Homelessness: A Review of the International Evidence” was commissioned by the Simon Communities in Ireland. It is based on an evidence review of the existing research on effective strategies and services for homelessness prevention, as well as existing practice from other countries. It will be launched in Cork today (Monday 15th April) at a Simon Communities conference featuring national and international experts presenting solutions and experiences around homelessness prevention and support.
Paul Sheehan, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities in Ireland, said that given the scale of the current homelessness crisis, it is more important than ever to highlight preventative solutions that have been proven to work elsewhere.
“As this new report shows, there are clear and evidence-based solutions to prevent more people from being pushed into homelessness and adding to the current crisis. There are solutions that have been shown to work in other countries, and that are within our grasp. Most significantly, it’s clear that a supply of affordable and secure housing is critical to any long-term solution. Currently, many people have nowhere to go if they cannot afford to rent, and this is one of the key reasons why there were 10,264 people in emergency accommodation as of February – the highest on record. Our housing sector remains in crisis and is struggling to cope with demand.. The private rented market is failing as a response to tackling the crisis. Social housing construction, while improving, declined significantly in recent decades, while rents have spiralled. It is clear that the private and social housing sector is struggling to deliver the level of affordable housing needed in this country in the long term. The Simon Communities in Ireland believe it is 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 at the scale required.
While here are ample success stories of people exiting homelessness successfully, they are being replaced by more people being pushed into homelessness. Developing effective strategies to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place will give us a real opportunity to get a grip on the current crisis. Access to safe, affordable and secure housing is a basic need and income should not be a barrier to this. Prevention and keeping people in the homes they have is essential to stopping the flow into homelessness.
As this report highlights, it is essential that prevention be part of an integrated homelessness strategy, and for it to be effective, it must have the flexibility to adapt to people’s needs. Homelessness and housing insecurity is traumatic, stressful and unfair, but we know that people can avoid homelessness when provided with the right supports. We must heed the lessons learned from other countries in tackling homelessness: stopping it from happening is the best way to avoid the very great human and financial costs that can accompany this extreme form of poverty and exclusion.”
The Simon Communities conference will be chaired by broadcaster Graham Clifford. Speakers include:
- Professor Nicholas Pleace (Director of Housing Policy, University of York) – Preventing Homelessness: A Review of the International Evidence.
- Hilary Melton (Executive Director, Pathways Vermont) – Housing First in New England – Lessons for Ireland?
- Joe Finnerty (Lecturer in Applied Social Studies, University College Cork) – Erasmus Street Support Project – Ireland Country Report: Drugs and Alcohol related nuisance: The situation in Ireland.
- Dermot Kavanagh (Cork Simon Community) – Erasmus Street Support Project – Findings of a European-wide assessment re: homelessness and alcohol & drug related nuisance.
- Tom Cremin (Cork Simon Community) – Cork’s expression of Street Support – Safer Saturdays Pilot: Findings and Reflections
The Simon Communities deliver supports and services to over 13,000 people and families who experience or are at risk of homelessness every year.
For media queries and interview requests
Tel: 085 806 5141
About the event
‘The Way Home – Best Practice in Homeless Prevention, and Housing Provision/Street Support in Dispersed & Rural Settings’.
Date: Monday, 15th April 2019
Venue: Imperial Hotel, 76 South Mall, Cork.
About Simon Communities
The Simon Communities in Ireland 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.