THE SIMON COMMUNITY ASKS MINISTER KELLY “WHAT WILL IT TAKE FOR THE HOMELESS EMERGENCY TO GET EMERGENCY RESPONSE NEEDED?”
Leading homeless and housing charity says interventions over the past year have made no impact
- Individuals in Emergency Accommodation up 44%
- Children in Emergency Accommodation up 99%
- Families in Emergency Accommodation up 106%
- Rough Sleeping already at December 2014 levels
Commenting at the launch of the Simon Community for Dublin, Wicklow, Kildare and Meath Annual Review 2014, Sam McGuinness of the Simon Community said that the Government’s response to the housing and homeless emergency has been too little and too slow to stem the unrelenting tide of homelessness. One year on from concerns they expressed at their 2013 Annual Report launch, the charity said that there is now a humanitarian crisis as numbers rough sleeping and in emergency accommodation reaches unprecedented levels in Dublin.
Sam McGuinness stated: “The numbers speak for themselves and clearly interventions to date have not been effective. We are asking Minister Kelly today – “How bad does the situation need to get before the Government acts decisively and quickly? What will it take for the homeless emergency to get emergency response needed?”
“As an immediate and minimal response, today we are calling for an instant increase in rent supplement and the implementation of rent certainty. We are also asking for quicker turnover of local authority units and welcome the introduction of modular homes, as a constructive measure. We must move past discussion and rhetoric and take tangible action now to help people and families who are currently trapped in this crisis. Each day, very vulnerable people and families are being met with a complex mix of housing shortages, inadequate rent supplement/allowances and rents rising at a shocking rate.”
The Simon Community, in Wicklow, Kildare and Meath met with 387 people who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in 2014. A 12 % increase in the year. The Simon Community Homeless Support Service provided part time outreach, prevention and move on options to 33 cases in Meath. 21 cases prevented people from loosing their tenancy and securing their accommodation.
Sam McGuinness continued; “There are little or no options for single person or a family to find private rented accommodation in Meath. A single parent with two children entitled to €600 in rent allowance, can be seeking a two bedroom property in Navan where the minimum asking price can be €700 per month. Rent supplement levels have not changed since June 2013 yet rents have increased in Meath by 14%.
The facts are clear; the numbers of people becoming homeless continues to increase while the availability of property is decreasing.”
Responding to demand
Sam McGuinness said that Simon Community is vigorously working with the resources at their disposal, to do everything possible to respond to the ever growing demand for housing and services.
“Currently we are faced with a homeless and housing emergency and it’s vital that we are able to provide suitable housing and supports for people who have fallen into the devastation of homelessness. Our Homeless Support Service, primarily funding by our generous donor base in the county, provided outreach clinics in Navan and specifically in some cases providing support to families in their homes. A number of successful applications to the Department of Social Protection were made to advocate for increases in rent supplement in order to secure and maintain tenancies.”
“We are focusing on housing as the critical step in responding to a person’s homelessness. Using our Housing Development Fund made up of made up of bequests, trusts and generous donor gifts, we are committed to the sourcing and acquiring of fit-for-purpose properties across Dublin, Wicklow, Kildare and Meath. Over the past year we have increased our accommodation capacity by over 59% in order to respond to the huge demand.”
KEY DEVELOPMENTS FROM DUBLIN SIMON COMMUNITY’S ANNUAL REVIEW 2014:
Dublin Simon Community provided services to over 3,000 men, women and children across Dublin, Wicklow, Kildare and Meath throughout 2014.
Kildare, Wicklow and Meath
- The number of people accessing our services in Kildare, Wicklow and Meath rose by 12% (2013 – 346, 2014 – 387)
Housing and Homeless Services
- 59% increase in accommodation capacity, through acquiring and opening new properties.
- Our Soup Run conducted by Simon part-time volunteers, who are out 365 nights a year, distributed over 50,000 sandwiches, hot drinks and snacks to people sleeping rough on the streets.
- Over 200,000 meals were provided across our residential services.
- The number of people accessing our Supported Accommodation by rose by 37% (2013 – 111, 2014 – 152)
- Over 70% of clients accessing our services were deemed “long term homeless” having been homeless longer than 6 months.
- Our Rough Sleeper Team spent over 6,000 hours engaging with the growing number of people living on the street, providing essential services and interventions.
Homeless Prevention and Support To Live Independently Service
- 285 households were supported in moving out of homelessness
- Over 400 people accessed our newly opened Tenancy Advice Services.
- Our Prevention services worked with 260 children
- 112% increase in the number of people accessing our homelessness prevention and tenancy sustainment services (2013 – 383, 2014 – 811)
- 75% of clients who accessed our Tenancy Advice service and at risk of homelessness were from the private rented sector
- 532 people accessed our Treatment and Recovery Services
- 1,017 hours of counselling support
Education, Development and Employability
- Over 1,300 Learning and Development sessions were held in 2014
- 309 personal training sessions were conducted by our Health and Wellbeing service