Leading homeless charity stresses the urgent need for the delivery of Rebuilding Ireland, saying vulnerable people can’t wait
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Brendan Carr, today (20 September) launched the Dublin Simon Community Annual Report 2015 at the Mansion House.
Speaking at the event, Sam McGuinness of the Dublin Simon Community confirmed the charity’s commitment to the Government’s Housing and Homeless Action Plan, Rebuilding Ireland, however stressed the need for detail on specifics in the Plan which address long term homelessness.
Snapshot on service increases from 2015 Report:
- 10% of people moved out of emergency accommodation into a home
- 59% of people in emergency accommodation have been homeless for more than two years
- 32% increase in the numbers counted on Early Morning Rough Sleeping counts in the last year (not including the 60 without a bed in the MQI Night Café) 168 Counted this morning
- 31% increase in those accessing Addiction Treatment Services
- 46% increase in housing capacity, through opening and acquiring 109 new properties in 2015.
- 59% increase in those accessing Emergency Accommodation
The Revolving Door Of Emergency Accommodation
Ahead of Minister Coveney’s announcement on Pillar One of the Action Plan this Thursday, Mr. McGuinness said the thousands of vulnerable people who are currently rough sleeping and stuck in emergency accommodation needed hope.
“With emergency beds across the city operating at full capacity each night, rapid housing and support for individuals is urgently needed to get people off the streets to safety and to tackle the bottleneck in emergency accommodation.
“People have become trapped in the revolving door of homelessness and the short term measure of emergency accommodation has become long term. If we look at our emergency services for 2015, there was only a one in ten chance of moving out of emergency accommodation into a home, with 90% of our residents deemed long term homeless (longer than six months) and a shocking 59% homeless for more than two years.
“The most recent figures from the Department of Environment show a 29%* increase in the number of adults and 39%* in children accessing emergency accommodation, in the past year. The long term effects of homelessness are destructive to people’s lives and one more night on the streets for any of the 168 people we counted this morning, will have a devastating impact on their heath.”
Increase in Rough Sleeping
Mr. McGuinness continued by highlighting the increase in rough sleeping across the city, which was recorded by the charity’s Rough Sleeper Team, who provide housing assistance, harm reduction and medical services. 2015 saw a 32% rise in rough sleeping over the past year despite the provision of 195 extra emergency beds.
“As you walk the streets of Dublin, the numbers of people who are rough sleeping each night is very apparent. We were shocked to see the average number of people bedding down jump from 80 in Aug 2015 to 106 in Aug 2016. Looking to our numbers this month, we are averaging at 150 so far in September, with the figure at 168 this morning. This does not include the 60 people without a bed in the Merchant’s Quay Night Café. These numbers are similar to rough sleeping figures in December 2014, which were the highest since the official DRHE counts began.”
Treatment and Recovery
Mr. McGuinness went on to say that the effects of the revolving door of homelessness was also extremely visible in the numbers accessing their treatment services.
“70% of people entering into our Detox programme were homeless for more than six months and 50% were homeless for over two years. Last year we witnessed a 31% rise in the number of people accessing our treatment, recovery and counselling services and a 71% increase in demand for counselling, where we provided 1,712 hours of mental health support to people in crisis.
“We are extremely concerned about the limited availability of treatment beds in the city. Currently we are unable to cope with the waiting lists and lack of move on options post treatment. 2015 saw the waiting period for a bed in our detox grow from 27 days in 2014 to 31 days, with only one in every ten people completing a detox moving to housing. Sadly five returned to emergency accommodation or back to family or friends because of the shortage in housing options.”
Simon’s Response to the Crisis
Mr. McGuinness said that Simon is vigorously working with the resources at their disposable, to do everything possible to respond to the ever growing demand for housing and services.
“As the numbers of people coming to our door for help continues to dramatically increase, we have utilised our limited resources to provide more accommodation and treatment services.
“Last year, in all our residential services, we provided over 230,000 meals to people who are homeless, with our kitchens providing nourishing food to improve their health and wellbeing. We also increased our capacity to house people who are homeless by acquiring 109 additional housing units. Additionally, to strengthen our ability to deliver life saving accommodation, we introduced our ambitious Capital Development Fund established in 2013 which plans to deliver 450 more homes for individuals and families to help tackle the homeless crisis into the future.”
Mr. McGuinness went on to say that bricks and mortar alone will not tackle the crisis.
“To deal with shortage in treatment services, we are planning to expand and redevelop our treatment facilities. In the immediate term, we are increasing our capacity by 30% in partnership with MQI. Looking to the future, we will expand our facility in Ushers Island to provide additional post treatment beds so that Alcohol and Benzo Detoxification, Rapid Access Stabilisations, Respite Stabilisation Crisis Mental Health and Recovery services are on site.
“Our Rough Sleeper Team combed the streets each day and night to support people sleeping rough and in crisis. Each month in 2015, we provided over 470 emergency needle exchanges and linked 150 people in with services such as emergency housing, social and medical services. Throughout the year, GP services continued in high demand with 845 GP consultations taking place at the Mobile Health Unit. This provides free primary care to people experiencing homelessness and is operated in partnership with SafetyNet.”
In addition to emergency and treatment response, and increasing their housing capacity, Mr. McGuinness said that keeping people in their homes and working with households at risk was a priority in 2015.
“We worked with 416 families across Dublin, Kildare Wicklow and Meath to move people out of homelessness or to sustain their tenancy; this was a doubling of the number of families in a year. Our Visiting Tenancy Support service that operates in the Dublin City Council area witnessed a 21% increase in the number people at risk of homelessness. Our team successfully sustained 89% these cases in their home, helping them to avoid the trauma of homelessness.”
Speaking about the recent Government commitments to tackle the homeless crisis, Mr. McGuinness emphasised the urgency at which Rebuilding Ireland must be implemented.
“We are confident that Rebuilding Ireland will have a real and positive impact on the people who are being devastated by the homeless crisis. In particular, the commitment to return 1,600 vacant properties to use by 2020 and the tripling of targets for Housing First in Dublin to 300 tenancies by 2017, plus 1,500 rapid build homes for families due by the end of 2018 is critical. We are also extremely encouraged by the increase in the target for social housing from 35,000 to 47,000 units, with a 40% increase in the social housing budget for direct builds by local authorities and Approved Housing Bodies.”
Speaking at the launch, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Brendan Carr, said:
“I am proud to be here today to launch Dublin Simon Community’s Annual Report 2015 and would like to congratulate the organisations’ clients, residents, volunteers and staff for all that you have achieved. For almost 50 years, Dublin Simon Community has continued to help people find a long term home with the tools and support network in place to sustain it. Staff and volunteers work with clients to address what circumstances brought them to be where they are and provide the emotional, health and financial supports for them to recover from the detrimental impact of homelessness. They give people the key to a new start, helping them leave the trauma of homelessness behind, and move towards a future filled with hope.”
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FROM DUBLIN SIMON COMMUNITY’S ANNUAL REVIEW 2015:
Dublin Simon Community provided services to 3,500 men, women and children across Dublin, Wicklow, Kildare and Meath throughout 2015.
- In excess of 150 individual clients each month were provided with housing assistance, harm reduction and medical services by our Rough Sleeper Team.
- 845 GP consultations took place at our Mobile Health Unit, operated in partnership with Safetynet, providing free primary care to people experiencing homelessnes.
- An average of 470 harm reduction emergency needle exchange packs were issued each month.
- Average of 150 individuals, for September thus far, was counted sleeping in the inner city on our Early Morning Street Counts.
- More than 60,000 hot drinks, sandwiches and snacks were distributed by our Soup Run and Social Club
- 25 clients accessed each evening of our twice weekly Social Club
- 689 people were accommodated in our emergency housing with care plans focusing on physical and mental health, life skills, education and employability.
- 90% of clients were long term homeless who accessed our Emergency Accommodation
- 71% of new clients in our Emergency Accommodation were aged 31-49.
- 821 referrals were made to private rented, or local authority accommodation, treatment or medical services.
Permanent Supported Housing
- 171 people who lived in our permanent supported housing received assistance with life skills, health and welfare, education and training.
- Over 230,000 meals were provided to clients across our residential services, with our kitchens providing nourishing food to improve their health and wellbeing.
- In our housing services 68% were male and 32% were female
- We had permanently housed 198 adults and 27 children, across Supported and Independent accommodation by the end of the year.
Independent Housing and Property Development
- 94 accommodation units were allocated and managed by the Housing Management Service
- 52 adults and 27 children were accommodated in our Independent Housing
- Room To Improve with our corporate supporters saved over €24,000 on maintenance works
- By the end of 2015 we had increased our housing stock to provide 346 beds.
Preventing Homelessness in Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow and Meath
- We reduced the risk of 570 people losing their homes through our homelessness prevention and resettlement services in Dublin.
- 315 people across Kildare, Wicklow and Meath received housing advice, settlement, prevention and outreach services so that they could secure a home.
Addiction Treatment, Recovery and Counselling
- 699 people accessed our treatment, recovery and counselling services, 31% increase since 2014.
- Our Aftercare service saw a 50% increase in the numbers accessing.
- Our Counselling service saw a 71% increase in the numbers accessing.
- 1,712 hours of 1:1 counselling support was provided by the Sure Steps Counselling Service.
Participation and Development
- 254 people expanded and developed their skills, education and employability through our Participation and Development services.
- Over 500 literacy classes took place during the year.