Dublin Simon CEO Catherine Kenny responds to the February Homeless Report released on Friday the 28th of April.
“The number of people staying in emergency accommodation in Dublin was up significantly in March, in a continuation of the trend seen over the past 15 months and representing an 25% increase on March 2022.
Following on from the lifting of the eviction ban, we are seeing increased activity in our homelessness prevention services and experiencing a rise in enquiries from concerned tenants at risk of losing their homes and requiring our expertise and support. Single people account for almost half of the clients we work with in homelessness prevention and are especially vulnerable due to a lack of affordable and suitable accommodation. Additionally, barriers to accessing the Housing Assistance Payment are being reported on the ground, and some individuals are returning to our emergency services due to the lack of appropriate options for moving on from homelessness.”
Governments €1 Billion Housing Plan
“We welcome Governments €1 billion housing plan announced this week, designed to reduce construction costs, develop vacant properties, and expedite the building of new homes. Proposals to activate planning permissions and finance the building of affordable rented apartments are encouraging, though the provision of cost-rental housing at a reduction of 25 per cent of the area’s market rate will still be out of reach to many.
In general terms, these are promising plans, but we are cognisant that it has proven difficult in recent years to spend available funds due to a lack of infrastructure required for implementation, along with a range of bureaucratic constraints inhibiting progress. We are urging Government to stay focused and to deliver real output so that we can finally turn the tide on the housing and homelessness emergency.”
“In-depth consultations around social housing are underway. There are almost 60,000 people on the waiting list, and the data indicates that supply is failing to keep up with demand. We are not seeing increased exits from homelessness into social housing.
It is paramount that a greater allocation of social housing is ringfenced for those who are languishing in emergency accommodation. The prolonged wait time for a person to exit emergency accommodation into affordable or social housing is completely unacceptable. Spending long periods in emergency accommodation is harmful to mental and physical health; with inadequate facilities to prepare basic meals, wash clothes, shower and rest, a person’s sense of agency over their own lives is severely depleted.”
“While the tenant-in-situ and right-to-first-refusal initiatives will help to mitigate homelessness in many instances, at this moment in time we need to scale up affordable and social housing supply, in tandem with providing a considerable expansion of homelessness prevention.
We must herald in a new age for society that will involve a significant rise in affordable and social housing, providing relief to the thousands of people whose lives are passing them by as they wait for homes to become available. Progress will be measured by a consistent decrease in homeless figures over time, and success can only be declared when the thousands of beds in emergency accommodation lie empty. The housing and homelessness crisis can be solved, but we remain quite some distance away.”
- Catherine Kenny, CEO of Dublin Simon Community