Support Emergency Homeless Services in Ireland

by Simon Communities of Ireland
Support Emergency Homeless Services in Ireland

The Simon Communities of Ireland have said the fact that an additional 540 people accessed emergency accommodation in January is disappointing, and shows that the next Programme for Government must include innovative and decisive measures to resolve the ongoing homelessness and housing crisis. While noting that the January increase was not unexpected, the charity highlighted that homelessness in Ireland has grown by 267% in the last five years (January 2015 to January 2020) and this is a clear call to action.

According to new figures from the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, 10,271 people were in emergency accommodation from January 20th to 26th. This is an increase of 540 people since December. The latest figures show:

•         10,271 men, women and children are now in emergency accommodation, an overall increase of 2.8% since January 2019, when the figure was 9,987.

•         4,400 single adults are now in emergency accommodation, an overall increase of 7.2% since January 2019, when the figure was 4,104.

•         6,697 adults in total are now in emergency accommodation, an overall increase of 5.2% since January 2019, when the figure was 6,363.

•         1,611 families are living in emergency accommodation, a decrease of three families from January 2019, when the figure was 1,614 families. 

Wayne Stanley, National Spokesperson for the Simon Communities, said the homelessness and housing crisis requires urgent attention.

“While a January increase in emergency accommodation numbers is not unexpected following seasonal declines over Christmas, it shows that there is still a mammoth amount of work to be done to turn the corner and move toward everyone’s shared goal of ending homelessness. Over the past 12 months, there has been some slowing of the increase in the number of people in emergency accommodation. However, the broader picture shows a 267% increase in homelessness since January 2015, and 3,574 children are in homelessness today.

“The election showed that the public is very clear that they want the homeless crisis dealt with. Meeting the electorate’s expectation requires an ambitious Programme for Government that will build a secure and affordable housing system that works for all. This will allow the work of the Simon Communities and others, in collaboration with local authorities, to turn the corner on this homelessness crisis. Beyond that, it will also provide the housing infrastructure we need to see an end to long-term homelessness, including for the 4,400 homeless single adults who are very poorly served by market-based solutions that are not providing the number of one and two-bed homes required.

“In the meantime, the Simon Communities continue to work with local authorities, government departments and other NGOs to try and alleviate the worst effects of this crisis. The three months of decline of families in emergency accommodation in the Dublin Region at the end of 2019 was an encouraging sign that these combined efforts can have an impact. However, to help these efforts and allow people to move on from homelessness permanently, the lack of affordable and social housing supply nationally must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

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Budget 2020 has seen the housing crisis eclipsed by a possible Brexit crisis, and that deepens the complexity of solving the biggest and most widespread issue facing modern Ireland. That’s according to the Simon Communities of Ireland. While welcoming the Government’s commitments to Rebuilding Ireland, it warns that much more substantive and timely interventions are needed to solve Ireland’s housing crisis.

Commenting, Simon Communities Head of Policy and Communications, Wayne Stanley said: “It is clear that Budget 2020 is a Brexit Budget and that the Government has reason to be cautious: in this context, the Government’s commitments to Rebuilding Ireland are to be welcomed. That said, even in a Brexit environment, Ireland is in a housing crisis and simply meeting the Rebuilding Ireland commitments is not enough to address homelessness, which continues to rise at an alarming rate. In the past 12 months, the number of people in emergency accommodation in the Southwest (Cork and Kerry) has risen by 32%; Galway has seen a year-on-year increase of 20%, and in Dublin the number of people in emergency accommodation has increased by 8%. These figures show that Rebuilding Ireland is not driving the level of change in our housing system that is required to end homelessness. We are concerned that the €20million allocated to homeless service will simply be swallowed up meeting the costs of people entering emergency accommodation.

“Our housing system is broken and structural change is required. While measures such as the help-to-buy commitment and a credit union funding vehicle for Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) are to be welcomed, we call on the Government to urgently move to a more innovative government-led cost rental model: quality, affordable housing built by the State using low cost loans.

He added: “This is a Brexit Budget that does not seem to see the response to housing and homelessness as needing a crisis response. With an election likely early next year, the cycle of government formation, programme development, policy development and ‘bedding in’ that follows an election can mean that this Budget sets the trajectory on housing and homelessness for the next 18 months.”  

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The Simon Communities in Ireland have said that urgent action is needed to address the homelessness and housing crisis, as new figures show another record number of people in emergency accommodation during April.

The homelessness and housing organisation welcomed the slight decrease in the overall number of children in emergency accommodation from March 2019 to April 2019, but said it was concerned to see the rise in the number of adults in emergency accommodation, which increased by 100 people during the month.

The Simon Communities were responding to figures released for April 2019 by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, which show that 10,378 men, women and children were in emergency accommodation from April 22nd to 28th. This is the third consecutive month that the number of people in emergency accommodation has been higher than 10,000. The new figures show:

• 10,378 men, women and children are now in emergency accommodation, an overall increase of 7.5% since April 2018, when the figure was 9,652. 

• 1,729 families are living in emergency accommodation, an increase of 1% from April 2018, when the figure was 1,712 families. 

• 3,794 children are stuck in emergency accommodation, an increase of 2.8% compared with April 2018, when the figure was 3,689 children.

Dermot Kavanagh, Chairperson of the Simon Communities of Ireland, says the figures are far too high, and that they point to a private rental market which is struggling and failing to meet the demand.

“The latest numbers sadly highlight the fact that the seemingly relentless upward trend in the number of people in emergency accommodation every month. We cannot allow this situation to continue and to become normalised.

“As people move out of emergency accommodation, more people come in to take their place. This has to be traced back to the lack of an accessible private rental sector, and the absence of sufficient social and affordable housing. The Daft Rental Report released earlier this month showed that the number of homes available to rent on Daft.ie was at its lowest level since the series began in 2006. To combat this, it’s clear that the pace of building much-needed social and affordable homes must be accelerated to meet the demand. There also must be a focus on preventing people from losing the homes they already have.

“We must ensure that people and families do not remain trapped in emergency accommodation long term. As well as those included in these numbers, there are also many thousands more living with housing insecurity, living with daily uncertainty not knowing of they will have a home next week or next month. This is no way for people and families to live.

“The people trapped in emergency accommodation need secure and affordable homes, with support where needed. There must be a collective focus on developing solutions to end this crisis once and for all. For that reason, the Simon Communities in Ireland believe it is vital that the State, in conjunction with Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies, continue to build and invest in social and affordable housing across all tenure types nationwide.”

 

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The homelessness and housing organisation was responding to figures released for March 2019 by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, which show that 10,305 men, women and children were in emergency accommodation from March 25th to 31st. The numbers show that an additional 318 people went into emergency accommodation between January and March.

According to the new figures:

• 10,305 men, women and children are now in emergency accommodation, an overall increase of 6.4% since March 2018, when the figure was 9,681. 

• 1,733 families are living in emergency accommodation, an increase of 0.8% from March 2018, when the figure was 1,720 families. 

• 3,821 children are stuck in emergency accommodation, an increase of 4.8% compared with March 2018, when the figure was 3,646 children.

 Paul Sheehan, spokesperson for the Simon Communities, says the figures are far too high, and that stronger tenant protections are needed to prevent further intensification of the crisis.

“The latest numbers sadly highlight the fact that there continues to be an upward trend in the number of people in emergency accommodation every month. This situation can not become normalised.

“We also must not forget those people not included in these figures; people sleeping rough or surviving in squats, women and children in refuges, people in direct provision and those who are ‘hidden homeless’ - people staying with family or friends as they have nowhere else to go. There are also many thousands more living with housing insecurity, living with daily uncertainty not knowing of they will have a home next week or next month. This is no way for people and families to live.

“Security of tenure and rent certainty are critical to preventing homelessness. Without an accessible private rental sector or affordable housing, people have nowhere to go if they cannot afford to rent; this isn’t fair. While the pace of building much-needed social and affordable homes is improving, it must be accelerated to meet the demand as there is currently an overreliance on the private rental sector. There also must be a concerted focus on prevention, to ensure that people don’t lose their homes in the first place.

“The people trapped in emergency accommodation need secure and affordable homes, with support where needed. There must be a collective focus on developing solutions to end this crisis once and for all. For that reason, the Simon Communities of Ireland believe it is vital that the State, in conjunction with Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies, continue to build and invest in social and affordable housing across all tenure types nationwide.”

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10,264 people were accessing emergency accommodation between February 18th and 24th, including 3,784 children, according to new figures from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. The latest figures report: 

10,264 men, women and children are now in emergency accommodation, an overall increase of 4.7% since February 2018, when the figure was 9,807. 

1,707 families are living in emergency accommodation, a decline of 1.8% from February 2018, when the figure was 1,739 families. 

3,784 children from families are in emergency accommodation, an increase of 0.8% compared with February 2018, when the figure was 3,755 children.

Paul Sheehan, Spokesperson for the Simon Communities, said that it is troubling and frustrating to see the number of people in emergency accommodation breach the 10,000 mark for the first time. 

“This is a frustrating number for Government, Local Authorities, NGOs, Charities and state agencies to grapple with. There is no silver bullet to solve this. All agencies would recognise that the lack of secure, affordable housing and insecurity in the rental market is at the heart of the crisis. A number of factors need to be addressed on multiple levels and areas in order to combat the increase.

We need to start providing social and affordable housing across all tenure types within sustainable communities nationwide at the scale that is needed. There also must be a concerted focus on prevention, to ensure that people don’t lose their homes in the first place. The fact that over 10,000 men, women and children are now depending on  emergency accommodation represents a milestone that the Simon Community hoped it would never witness in its 50 years of work. And these figures don’t reflect the full picture. People rough sleeping, or those in squats, parents and children in refuges, those in direct provision and the ‘hidden homeless’ - those staying with family or friends as they have nowhere else to go – are not counted among the 10,264.”

The Simon Communities acknowledged Minister Murphy’s statement that reforms to the rental sector are due to come before cabinet in the coming days. Paul Sheehan, Spokesperson for the Simon Communities, said that proposals under consideration in relation to Residential Tenancies Bill are needed in order to strengthen tenant protections in the private rented sector. This would help ensure that fewer people find themselves at risk of being pushed into homelessness.

“In particular, the proposals to address many of the loopholes in the existing bill around tenants’ security of tenure and minimum standards in rented accommodation could potentially make a huge difference to the lives of those who currently live with a lack of secure housing.”

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Organization Information

Simon Communities of Ireland

Location: Dublin - Ireland
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @simoncommunity
Simon Communities of Ireland
Laura Finn
Project Leader:
Laura Finn
Dublin, Dublin Ireland

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