Research and Policy

The Simon Communities around the country regularly produce and contribute to reports on the topic of homelessness and the issues that relate to the experiences of homelessness.

Please click on the links below to view Research and Policy Reports from the last number of years.

Blood Borne Virus and Drug Stabilisation Treatment Long Term Impacts for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness (2021)

Full Report


Homelessness is a growing human rights issue in Ireland. The route to homelessness often involves numerous societal and personal factors. The prevalence of multiple issues faced by homeless individuals is increasing, complicating their return to wider society.

Substance addictions, blood borne viruses, and mental health issues are all independently over-represented within the homeless community. Blood borne viruses are transmitted when body fluids pass from an infected to a non-infected person. In Ireland, people who inject drugs are some of the most at-risk populations for these viruses through needle-sharing. Mental ill-health is becoming increasingly recognised as a significant contributor to, and consequence of, substance addictions.

Those experiencing homelessness, addiction, or mental health difficulties struggle to adhere to medication regimens, which becomes more pronounced with co-morbidity of these issues. For BBV treatments, however, adherence is of paramount importance, as HIV can be suppressed to un-transmittable levels, and hepatitis C can be cured entirely.

Dublin Simon Community’s Blood Borne Virus and Drug Stabilisation Unit was established to support those experiencing homelessness and BBV treatment adherence difficulties to re-engage with their regimens. The programme further aims to address substance addiction, mental health, accommodation, civic, social, and physical health issues.

This study investigated the impact of unit admission on these compounding issues. Mixed-methodologies were used with a gender-balanced sample of 13 participants across four time-points from pre-admission to six months post-discharge. Key results include: BBV treatment adherence, improved physical health, the impact of loneliness and mental health service availability for mental health, improved accommodation, post-discharge substance use regression, better outcomes for alcohol- than cocaine-dependent clients, and a correlation of self-belief with outcomes. Implications are discussed and recommendations offered.

Mapping restrospective outcomes and existing processes of the Dublin Simon Community Detoxification Unit in order to inform client needs and future service developments

Prof Catherine Comiskey, Karen Galligan, Dr Sonoma Banks, Linda Earls

Read full Report here.

This report was commissioned by Dublin Simon Community management to objectively assess the future service needs from the perspectives of the clients, staff and governance and procedural processes.  It was conducted by a research team in Trinity College Dublin with funding from the Hospital Saturday Fund.

It was a mixed methodology research project with quantitative analysis of client needs, care pathways and outcomes over 5 year period 2015-2019 and qualitative interviews with clients and relevant staff.

Adult Autism in Homelessness: Prevalence, Experiences and Support Needs in an Irish Context – A Mixed Methods Study

Full Report

The report is an evaluation of the implementation of the Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS) Approach within Simon’s homeless services to provide additional support to clients who may be experiencing suicidal ideation. Click here to view the full report

This study looks at the current state of Ireland’s rental market and its effects on the country’s most vulnerable people. This study tracks the gap between rising market rents and the Rent Supplement / Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) limits. ‘Locked Out of the Market VII: The Gap between Rent Supplement/HAP Limits and Market Rents’ was conducted over three consecutive days – 1st, 2nd and 3rd of August 2017. Click here to view the full report.

Homelessness and Mental Health: Voices of Experience (2017)

This study grew out of a Dublin Simon Community Client Action Group (CAG) event on mental health which took place in November, 2014. The CAG’s Speak Outon Mental Health event showed that there was a strong interest among homeless people in having improved mental health services. Click here to view the full report. 

Living in Limbo: Homeless Young People’s Paths to Housing (2017)

This longitudinal research study followed 40 young people over a two-year period in order to examine the factors, experiences and circumstances that impact their homeless and housing situations over time. The research was carried out by Dr. Paula Mayock and Sarah Parker, School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin and the Simon Communities of Ireland, Focus Ireland, Threshold, Peter McVerry Trust and Society of St. Vincent De Paul collectively funded the research. Click here to view the full report. 

Empty Homes: Unlocking Solutions to the Housing and Homelessness Crisis (2017)

The Government has committed in Rebuilding Ireland: Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness to developing an overall National Vacant Housing Re-use Strategy, due out in the second quarter of 2017. The Simon Communities have developed a 10 Point Empty Homes Plan, Empty Homes: Unlocking Solutions to the Housing and Homelessness Crisis with a range of solutions that we believe should be included in this Strategy. Click here to view the full report.

The Government’s Rebuilding Ireland: Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness (2016)

Designed to accelerate housing supply in this country, Rebuilding Ireland aims to tackle our country’s housing shortage. Ambitious and imaginative in its reach, and radical in its approach, this plan looks to address the needs of homeless people and families in emergency accommodation, accelerate the provision of social housing, deliver more housing, utilise vacant homes and improve the rental sector. Click here to view the full plan.

Women Homelessness & Service Provision (2015)

Women’s experience of homelessness can differ significantly from their male counterparts in terms of the causes of their homelessness, their experiences while homeless and their pathways out of homelessness. This report aims to explore some of these themes in the Irish context as well as looking at some of the risk and vulnerability factors more generally. Click here to view the full report.

Which Way Home? The Experiences of the Simon Communities Introducing Housing Led Services (2015)

As a follow up to our Finding the Way Home research and in light of the Government’s commitment to end long term homelessness by implementing a housing-led approach, the Simon Communities in Ireland commissioned a piece of research to explore the experiences of the Simon Communities introducing housing-led services.  The research was undertaken by Mark Bevan with Nicholas Pleace of the Centre for Housing Policy in York University and was designed to help inform and critically assess the use of housing-led services as a response to homelessness at both a national and local level. Click here to read the full report.

Left Out In The Cold: A Review of Rural Homelessness In Ireland  (2014)

The key aims of the paper were: To explore the experience of rural homelessness in Ireland especially among the eight Simon Communities in Ireland. To explain how rural homelessness can differ from urban homelessness and some of the challenges that arise, both for people experiencing homeless and those at risk, and service providers. To explore Government Commitments in relation to homelessness and the current policy context. Give recommendations addressing the issues identified. Click here to read the full report.

Homelessness, Ageing and Dying: Exploratory research looking at the needs of older people, who are homeless, as they age, and are faced with the serious issues of ill health and dying (2014)

There is a lack of information about the exact number of people who are homeless and the nature of the homelessness at any one point in Ireland. There is also a lack of information on the physical and mental health needs of people who are homeless and particularly among older people who are homeless or formerly homeless. The overall aim of this study was to explore the needs of older people who are homeless as they age and are faced with the issues of serious ill health, dying and death. Click here to read the full report.